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Full text of "Omni Complete Catalog of Computer Software"




COMPLETE CATALOG OF 
COMPUTER SOFTWARE 



EDITED BY OWEN DAVIES 



THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE GLIDE TO DATE 

OVER 950 PROGRAMS REVIEWED 
ENTERTAINMENT, EDUCATION, HOME 
MANAGEMENT, WORD-PROCESSING SOFTWARE- 

^ INCLUDES TIPS FOR FREE 
SOFTWARE, DISK MAGAZINES AND MUCH MORE 

COMPAFIRILITY INDEX 
FOR EVERY PERSONAL COMPUTER 



Dnnrui 



COMPLETE CATALOG 
OF COMPUTER SOFTWARE 



Other computer books from OMNI 

OMNI Online Database Directory 

OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Hardware and Accessories 



This Book Withdrawn From The Record 
Of The Mid-Continent Public Library 

JAN 2 9 1998 



' -ttMMM _, ' ■•.*«i - i.Wi». „.. *•■•* 



Dnnrui 



COMPLETE CATALOG 
OF COMPUTER SOFTWARE 

EDITED BY OWEN DAVIES 



An OMNI Press Book 

Macmiilan Publishing Company 
New York 
Collier Macmiilan Publishers 
London • 




001.6425 D288 AD 

OMNI COMPLETE CATALOG OF COMPUTER SOFTWA 
AN MCPL 




r- 3 

853 9 80^ 



STAFF FOR OMNi'S COMPLETE CATALOG OF COMPUTER SOFTWARE 

:.. Owen Davies, Editor 
Robert Weil, Editor, Omni Books 
Peter Tyson, Assistant Editor, Omni Books 

Senior Contributors: Mark Andrews, Steven .G. Fox, Gregory R.GIau, Harry Hewin, Chip Hilts,. Scott Kariya, Gary 

Keenliside, Wes Lewis, Michael Nadeau, Ted Needleman, Tim Onosko, Robert V. Price, Ph.D., Robert Rivlin, Peter 

Runciman, Duane Saylor, David Fay Smith, Gary and Scott Smith, and M. David Stone 

The staff of this catalog would like to give special thanks to Dominick Anfuso and Barry Lippman at Macmillan, and to 
Marcia Potash at Omni for her support. We would also like to offer our grateful appreciation to Mary Ann D'Urso, Patrick 
Filley, Jim Lepper, Jane Low, Diane McNulty, Susan Ostrov, Wendy Sherman, and Alexandra Urdang at Macmillan, and 
to Murray Cox, Claudia Dowling, Steven C. Fox, Linda Ganci, Paul. Hilts, Babs Lefrak, Nancy Lucas/ Bev Nerenberg, Dick 
Teres!, and Gurney Williams HI at Omni for making their contribution to this book. Finally, toBob Gucctone and Kathy 
Keeton, who created a magazine environment where good ideas germinate. 



Copyright © 1984 by OMNI Publications International, Ltd. 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by an means, electronic 
or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without 

permission in writing from the Publisher. 

MACMILLAN PUBLISHING COMPANY 

866 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 1 0022 

Collier Macmillan Canada, Inc. 

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data 

Main entry under title: 

Omni complete catalog of computer software. 

Includes index. 

1. Computer programs— Catalogs. I. Davies, Owen. 

II. Omni (New York, N.Y.) 

QA76.6.045 1984 001.64'25'0294 84-15449 

ISBN 0-02-529820-8 

Macmillan books are available at special discounts for bulk purchases for sales promotions, premiums, fund- 
raising, or educational use. Special editions or book excerpts can also be created to specification. For details, 

contact: 

Special Sales Director 
Macmillan Publishing Company 
866 Third Avenue 
'/> New York, New York 10022 

10 9 8 7 6 5 A -3 2 1 

Printed in the United States of America 



CDfUTErUTS 



INTRODUCTION by Owen Davies 


1 


ARE WE SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE? by Wes Lewis 


3 


EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE: ESSENTIAL ADVICE ON 
WHAT TO LOOK FOR by Seymour Papert 


4 


SOFTWARE FOR FREE by Peter Runciman 


7 


Reviews 


ACCOUNTING 


9 


DATABASES 


38 


GENERAL BUSINESS 


71 


INTEGRATED PACKAGES 


87 


SPREADSHEET PROGRAMS 


98 


GRAPHICS 


111 


WORD PROCESSING 


146 


WORD PROCESSING ACCESSORIES 


179 


COMMUNICATIONS 


191 


COMPUTER LANGUAGES (Introduction by Carl Helmers) 


214 


OPERATING SYSTEMS 


249 


UTILITIES 


261 


AGWARE 


286 


MATHEMATICS/ENGINEERING 


304 


INVESTMENT 


310 


LEGAL 


1 322 


MEDICAL 


331 


EDUCATION 


340 


ENTERTAINMENT 


371 


HOME MANAGEMENT 


395 


FREEWARE 


412 


DISK MAGAZINES 


418 


GLOSSARY 


426 


DIRECTORY OF SOFTWARE FIRMS 


436 


CONTRIBUTORS 


455 


COMPATIBILITY INDEX 


459 


INDEX 


467 



onnrui 



COMPLETE CATALOG 
OF COMPUTER SOFTWARE 



IRJTRDDUCTOnJ 



BYOWENDAViES 



When Omni magazine was born less than six years 
ago, no book in any way similar to this could have 
been written. True, the first personal computers 
had already made their appearance. The Altair was 
still available, and the first Apple and Radio Shack 
machines were beginning to make their mark, and 
a now-obsoiete model called the Sol was being 
hailed as "the Cadillac of microcomputers." 

But there wasn't much that these early machines 
could do. They were of little use as word proces- 
sors. You couldn't build a spreadsheet model with 
them. Forget dialing up a bulletin board system; 
there weren't any, at least not for home users. The 
missing factor was software. Without programs, 
the best personal computer is no more than an 
expensive doorstop. 

Just how many microcomputer programs have 
been churned out in the last six years, no one has 
any idea. Too many were of limited interest, too few 
have survived in the marketplace. But most esti- 
mates put the current total of commercial pro- 
grams in the neighborhood of 12,000. Some 4,000 
are available for the Apple alone, another 3,500 or 
so for the IBM PC and its relatives, 2,000 or more 
for the CP/M operating system. No one could pos- 
sible wade through them all to find the software he 
or she needs. 

Worse yet is the torrent of claims and counter- 
claims spewing from software firms and ad agen- 
cies across the country. Each month, computer 
magazines for the IBM PC alone churn out well 
over 1,000 pages of copy, two-thirds of it hard-sell 
advertising. And all too many of the software re- 
views published are little more than press-release 
rewrites extolling the wonders of the latest "me- 
too" competitor for WordStar, VisiCalc, dBASE II, 
or Lotus 1-2-3. There are exceptions, reviews that 
look deeply at what a program can do, then expose 
its defects as well as its virtues. But how do you 
find them amid the empty words? 

One of the best ways is to read on. Gathered in 
this catalog is the work of some 70 computer writ- 
ers, all experts in their fields. They have spent 
much of the last year combing through their expe- 
rience with programs in a wide variety of areas, 
studying products for all of the major personal and 
small business computers. In each case, they have 
focused on the features and flaws that govern how 
a program will perform in actual use, not just on a 
few "benchmarks" designed to highlight technical 
details. 



You'll find several categories of programs in 
these •. listings. Some are new offerings, widely 
touted as the best thing that's happened to com- 
puters since the silicon chip; a few even lived up to 
most of their claims. Other programs are standards 
in their fields; not all deserve to be. Most are re- 
spectable pieces of software, well suited to their 
tasks — unless you happen to need the few specific 
features they lack. These reports are not iikely to 
tell you which program to buy; you'll still have to 
test your candidates to be sure which is best for 
you. But the reviewers' experience should at least 
warn you away from many of the programs that do 
not suit your needs. 

Before looking at the reviews themselves, how- 
ever, spend some time with the opening essays. 
Each was contributed by a leader of the computer 
industry, one uniquely qualified to deal with his 
topic. Here Dr. Seymour Papert, creator of the 
Logo teaching language and the acknowledged 
leader of educational computing, describes the 
role of home computers in learning and tells what 
to look for in a teaching program. And "Peter Run- 
ciman," long-time chronicler of the public-domain 
software movement, points out how much serious 
computing can be done without spending a nickel 
on commercial programs. (We're sorry we can't 
give Runciman credit under his real name; com- 
puter cognoscenti are sure to recognize the grace- 
ful dignity of his writing style.) if you've ever 
wondered how much substance lies behind the 
computer-world hype, our essayists should put 
your mind to rest. 

When you are done with the essays, move on to 
the introductions that begin each subsection of the 
catalogue itself. Give particular attention to the In- 
troduction to the Chapter on computer languages. 
Here, Carl Helmers, founding editor of Byte maga- 
zine, cuts through the hackers' rhetoric and tells 
what programming languages are really about. 
Also, in these intros you will find an overview of the 
software found in that category— the range of 
power, cost, and ease of use among, say, account- 
ing packages; their practical benefits and limita- 
tions; and some of the trade-offs you will have to 
make in selecting the program you need. By the 
time you are finished, you should have no trouble 
in identifying the worthwhile candidates. 

Unless you have been using a computer for a 
while, all this may leave you insecure. That's under- 
standable. For most of us, fitting a computer Into 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



our lives is not easy. Soon, though, it becomes more productively. Then worry turns to excitement 
clear that we can master this intimidating new Keep reading. The more you know about corn- 
technology and that doing so will trim the work puters, the more useful— and enjoyable—they be- 
from our lives and let us use our time and energy far come.* 



ARE UUE SPE AKIfUE THE 
SAfUlE LAQJEUAEE? 



BY WES LEWIS 



If you're having trouble understanding some of the 
debate about microcomputer languages, think of it 
in terms of the baseball season and the World Se- 
ries. Everyone has their own favorite team and will 
quote you logical reasons why that team Is the 
best. If they're on top, ft is only what you would 
expect of them. If they're on the bottom, it's a tem- 
porary slump. Even the Mets have rabidly loyal 
fansi Then comes the World Series, and when it's 
over it seems as if the best team has won the title. 
But. in reality, each team still has its own collection 
of loyal fans, still proclaiming "Wait till next yearl" 

The same thing happens with computer lan- 
guages. A new language isn't born without a clear 
need for it, nor does it survive without users who 
feel it's better than another choice. Confusion 
about languages arises because there are really 
two different sets of needs among personal com- 
puter users. The first is that of the traditional pro- 
grammer. He needs a language to write programs, 
generally large and complex programs that will run 
many times before they are replaced. The pro- 
grams will .probably need ;to be revised several 
times before they are discarded, .= and these 
changes must often be made by people other than 
the original programmer. Programmer languages 
must support and simplify these requirements. 
Much, of the discussion about the merits of lan- 
guage, centers on the needs of this community. 

With the arrival of the personal computer, a new 
and growing community has entered the comput- 
ing world. These are the people who use the com- 
puter as a tool to help get answers to their 
questions where these questions are : not directly 



related to computers. They are not programmers 
per se, but will program if necessary. The best ex- 
ample of this is the VisiCalc phenomenon. Before 
VisiCalc, microcomputer users were mostly people 
with prior computer experience. Micros were used 
in some small businesses, but generally only under 
the supervision of a consultant or other computer- 
trained person. VisiCalc introduced a new view of 
how to use computers. Almost overnight, people 
who. didn't know how to use a computer were get- 
ting answers to their questions from micros. As a 
result, the microcomputer market rapidly turned 
into the personal computer industry. 

Although software is directed more and more to- 
ward users, the schizophrenia in language discus- 
sions remains. To understand these discussions, 
you must determine what category you fall into, 
and what category the opinions you are evaluating 
fall into. In order to help youthrough this maze, we 
wiil briefly examinethe characteristics of the more 
popular languages from these perspectives. : 

Starting on page 219 (following Carl Helmers' 
introduction), we will discuss the individual ; lan- 
guages in terms of their general defined character- 
istics. These have been broken down into groups 
labelled: User Languages, ; Programming Lan- 
guages, and "New" Languages.There are often 
large differences between the definition of a lan- 
guage and the facilities available in a particular ver- 
sion of that language for a particular computer. 
The version. available for your computer may have 
fewer or more functions and facilities of the lan- 
guage as described in these overviews. When in 
doubt, check It outi . -.=■.■■/ 



EDUCATIOITJAL SOFTUUARE: 



E 



;e:c 



5EQJTI AL ADV/ICE DfU IAJH AT 



TO LDDK FDR 



BY SEYMOUR PAPERT 



It is not easy to say what counts as educational 
software. Much of what is being sold as "educa- 
tional" is not really very educational at all. Also, 
some software designed for other purposes can be 
very educational. And since we live In a caveat 
emptor culture, it can be very confusing to ferret 
out which piece of software will be most valuable 
for your purposes. Rather than try to provide a list 
of what's good and what's bad, I shall attempt in- 
stead to share some general concepts that may 
help you think about your specific needs. ! shall 
use some specific examples to make general 
points, but these are not to be taken as endorse- 
ments for various programs. !n fact, many good 
ones are omitted. 

There are two general types of educational soft- 
ware: those that put the learner in control, a con- 
cept that has developed only recently, and those 
that try to control the learner. " 

The first use of any hew technology is generally 
to improve something people were already doing. 
New and novel uses for any technology emerge 
over time. Thus, when computers first entered the 
realm of education, the concept was simple: Use 
the computer to automate teaching. But the com- 
puters of the early 1960s were cumbersome, ex- 
pensive and not all that powerful. The aspect of 
the teaching process that became automated 
during this era was entirely mechanical: rote 
drill and practice. The computer became a 
programmed flashcard. It would ask things like, 
"5 + 7 = ?" If you answered "57," it replied, 
"Wrong, try again." 

This approach to educational software is called 
computer-aided-instruction, or CAl for short. It has, 
naturally, become more sophisticated over the 
years. You may now hear little melodies or see 
flashing colored lights when you get the answer 
right. With other packages, the drill process may 
be embedded in a game. When the subject matter, 
like touch typing, is of a rote nature, the CAl ap- 
proach is invaluable, because drill and practice 
may be exactly what you need. 

Other programs on large research computers are 
striving toward another level of sophistication: 
They are applying techniques from Artificial Intelli- 
gence to diagnose the source of the user's errors 
and to make more intelligent and helpful com- 
ments than the mechanical kind of standard drill 
and practice. This ICAI (Intelligent Computer- 
Aided-Instruction) still requires more memory and 



processing power than is yet available for micro- 
computers. 

The automation of learning, achieved through 
computerized drill and practice, is not the only goal 
of educational software. Following this early work 
have come more promising ideas about how the 
. computer might be used to enhance education. 
Most antithetical to the concept of CAl is the micro- 
world. The software designed for the microworld 
provides the learner with' new vistas to explore. 
Whereas CAl forces the student to respond to the 
computer and puts the machine in control of the 
process, the microworld reverses this relationship. 
Here, the computer responds to the student's in- 
structions; so the student controls the process and 
learns by exploration and discovery. 

This distinction between CAI's instructional ap- 
proach and the exploratory process used in micro- 
worlds is important. When we think about learning, 
all too often the image that comes to mind is one of 
sitting in school and repeating the multiplication 
tables in a tuned out, hypnotic state. But this is the 
least effective way in which learning takes place. 

A good example of the best way to learn some- 
thing is the way babies learn to speak. They are 
surrounded by language: not only adults talking to 
each other, but parents and siblings talking to 
them. Entry into the language is made easier by a 
microworld of "baby talk"-— simplified bits and 
pieces of speech the child can grab hold of and 
expand upon. But nowhere in the world is any lan- 
guage limited to baby talk. The child continues to 
be immersed in the full richness of language and 
continues learning the same language that is used 
by philosophers, poets, and scientists to express 
complex ideas. 

The striking thing about this process is how well 
it works. While not every child grows up to become 
a Dostoyevski, Aristotle, or Einstein, he or she does 
become a fluent speaker of that language. We re- 
sort to rote drill and practice — as in the case of 
"dead" languages such as Latin — only when we 
cannot design an environment in which the child 
can learn in a more natural and effective way. 

Until recently, the only general-purpose technol- 
ogy for learning subjects that are conveyed primar- 
ily by symbols and by symbol-manipulation was 
pencil and paper. With the aid of the computer, we 
can now design a virtually unlimited number of 
learning environments. 

Microworlds did not begin with the computer. A 



Educational Software 



simpler type of precomputer microworld, for ex- 
ample, is the' well known construction kit Tinker- 
toys. Computer versions of such construction kits 
lack a physical reality, but they are more flexible 
and dynamic. With oneof these programs, you can 
build a variety of simulated pinball machines. The 
various components are placed in different posi- 
tions on the screen by manipulating Arrow keys. 
The result can then be played as a video game. The 
educational value of this microworld is similar to 
that of a construction kit. The point is not to learn 
about the content — pinball machines — but about 
the process of construction. 

Rooky's Boots is probably the best-known com- 
puter-based construction kit, but it also has a more 
specific educational content. This particular micro- 
world is inhabited by components used in building 
digital circuits. A user will come away with a solid 
understanding of how such circuits work. The 
components — AND gates, OR gates, NOT gates, 
sensors, and one effector — can be put together in 
many different ways. One can, for example, build a 
circuit that will recognize combinations of proper- 
ties, such as green-but-not-triangular, and will toot 
when an objeot with these characteristics is pre- 
sented. With this program, the user learns about 
general principles of construction and specific 
knowledge about digital circuits. The program is 
designed so that children as young as ten can use 
it easily, yet it is complex enough to interest adults. 

Video games are also microworlds, but their ed- 
ucational value is relatively limited. One does learn 
a fair amount about strategy — both the strategies 
you need in order to win the game (just as check- 
ers, tic-tac-toe, chess, bridge, and poker ail have 
strategies that must be understood in order to play 
them well) and the strategies of learning, "How do 
I figure out what playing strategy to use?" 

The microworid reaches its most powerful form 
when it is combined with programming. Logo is a 
programming language designed to promote 
learning. One way it does this is through a micro- 
world inhabited by a movable object called a turtle. 
Various Logo commands instruct the turtle how to 
move, and whether to draw a line as it goes. Pro- 
grams written in Logo — or, in principle, any other 
programming language — cause the turtle to draw 
complex graphic designs. By manipulating this tur- 
tle, the user learns both geometry and program- 
ming. At the same time, he or she acquires a sense 
of mastery of the computer. 



As a programming language, Logo also has the 
capacity to create special-purpose microworlds. 
You can, for example, make the turtle behave tike 
an object in space, responding to "forces" instead 
of "FORWARD 50"-style commands. This "dyna- 
turtle" allows the student to explore Newtonian, 
gravity-free, frictionless motion in a direct and con- 
crete way that would otherwise be impossible un- 
less one got a ride on a space shuttle. The learning 
involved in figuring out how to write such a pro- 
gram is often just as significant as what is learned 
by exploring the microworld that results. 

In evaluating educational software, it is impor- 
tant to distinguish between "easy" and ease of 
entry. Neither Rooky's Boots nor Logo is "easy." 
They are easy to get into, but they are also very 
challenging. One special advantage of Logo is its 
appeal to very young children, some as young as 
four and five, and to sophisticated adult program- 
mers. Logo's reputation as being "good for chil- 
dren" is justly deserved, but only because it has a 
logical clarity that makes it good for everybody. In 
its structure, Logo is really equivalent to LISP, 
which is the language universally used in frontier 
research in Artificial Intelligence. 

Few programming languages are intended to be 
educational — they're meant for real use. But they 
are educational, some more so than others. After 
Logo, which is designed for learning, the most ed- 
ucational language is the assembler for the ma- 
chine you use. (Machine language is really not very 
difficult.) Educational higher level languages in- 
clude FORTH, Lisp, and C. Of Pascal, the UCSD 
version for the Apple is particularly educational — 
partly because some good material has been writ- 
ten about it. 

Besides programming languages, much soft- 
ware that is intended for wholly different purposes 
is also educational. For example, a good word pro- 
cessor is educational in many ways. It lets you de- 
velop a new relationship to language and a new 
relationship to the computer, a new understanding 
of a relatively complex system. A healthily complex 
word processor, like Perfect Writer or MINCE, is 
more educational than one that simplifies the pro- 
cess in order to seem "educational." With a little 
sensitivity, one can teach a young child to use a 
complex system by starting with the simplest parts 
of it. This is, after ail, how anyone learns new 
things. As with any new process, one looks to make 
entry into the system as easy as possible, while still 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ensuring that the possibilities for later exploration 
are kept rich and varied. Most designers of educa- 
tional software miss the point and design simple 
systems that reach their limits much too quickly. 
. It is not always obvious how weii the designers 
have done with any given program. In judging a 
piece of software, you need to use it for a while, not 
just try it out in the store for five minutes. What you 
can do in a few minutes isn't very indicative of how 
useful it will be later on. Friends are, of course, 
helpful in giving you some idea of what it is like, 
but their. purposes may be a bit different from your 
own. And if you are going to be ''the. first kid on 



your block," you don't even have that much to go 
on. Reading the manual is sometimes helpful, but 
even with the best manuais.-you need to work with 
the software to see what actually happens on the 
screen. Descriptive literature, after ail, is written by 
people whowant you to buy their software. Like 
advertising, such materia! tells you nothing about 
shortcomings. If you can't find some way of ac- 
tually using the software, talk to people.who have. 
Be sure to ask what they wish it could do, as well 
as what it does do. You may be able to find the 
missing features somewhere else.co; 



SOFTUUARE FDR FREE 



BY PETER RUNCIMAN 



If your budget is in poor shape after buying your 
computer or that latest spreadsheet marvei, look in 
the public domain and users' group libraries for 
free {well, almost free) programs, or use your smart 
modem and the telephone line to transfer heeded 
programs from a Remote CP/M (RCPM) station. 
Price is not the only reason for exploring these 
programs; although some of the early contribu- 
tions are of dubious quality, there are useful pro- 
grams on almost every disk and most of the later 
contributions are extremely well designed and doc- 
umented, and provide real competition to equiva- 
lent commercial programs. 

Public domain programs are those that have 
been written by microcomputer users for their own 
purposes and then donated to one of the libraries 
for free distribution. Some of them have no strings 
attached: You can use these programs in any way, 
including incorporating all or part into programs 
that you develop and plan to sell. Others carry 
copyright notices and the admonition that you may 
not, without permission from the author, incorpo- 
rate any part of them in software that you sell, al- 
though you may use, copy, or distribute them 
freely. ■ ■' - : ' 

PUBLIC DOMAIN LIBRARIES 

At present, the largest quantity of public domain 
software is designed for computers using the 8080/ 
8085/Z80 microprocessor chips and running the 
CP/M operating system. Typical of these are the 
Kaypro, Osborne, Morrow Micro Decision — to 
name but a few. However, the number of programs 
written for the IBM PC and its look-alikes running 
PC-DOS is rapidly increasing, as are programs de- 
signed for machines using the 8086/8088 chips and 
running the Microsoft MS-DOS operating system. 
Libraries of programs written in FORTH, Pascal, 
and C are also available from amateur groups spe- 
cializing in these languages. 

The two largest libraries are the CP/M Users' 
Group (CPMUG), which has 92 volumes, and the 
Special Interest Group/CPM (SIG/M), which had 
published 156 volumes as of December 1983. Both 
of these groups are volunteer organizations and 
prefer to distribute through local computer clubs. 
If you don't belong to a club, they will supply vol- 
umes directly, but since they don't have the facili- 
ties for mass distribution, expect a delay of from 
two to three weeks in filling your order. A "volume" 
consists of from 15 to 20 programs and is available 



either as an almost full 8-inch singie-density disk, 
or as an equivalent number of 5 1 /4-inch disks. Not 
all 5 1 /4-inch formats are available, however. Each 
program is supplied in the form of source code 
and, quite often, executable object code as well. 
Documentation is included on the disk. Programs 
are grouped by topic in each volume— i.e., games, 
communications programs, system utilities, data- 
base managers, word processors, etc. 

Addresses of CPMUG and SIG/M are given in the 
Freeware chapter; for a comprehensive list of 
users' groups,- refer to "A Directory of Users' 
Groups" by Don Libes, published in Microsystems 
vol. 4, no. 10 (October 1983). : . 

REMOTE CP/M STATIONS 

A Remote CP/M (RCPM) station is a computer 
system that will automatically answer a telephone 
call from another computer and immediately put 
you in the driver's seat— that is, your own micro 
will act as if it were the console of the RCPM. You 
can display the directories, examine the documen- 
tation files of the programs available, and use the 
transfer mode of your telecommunications pro- 
gram to move files from the RCPM to your own 
machine where they will automatically be stored on 
your disks. The files are all protected so you cannot 
change them or make the RCPM system crash. A 
comprehensive (though not complete) list of the 
RCPM systems in the United States and Canada 
was published in Microsystems vol. 4, no. 7 (July 
I983), and we understand that an updated list is to 
be published in the June 1 984 issue. 

To talk to an RCPM station you will need a 
modem operating at one of the standard data rates 
(generally 300 or 1,200 baud). All RCPM stations 
can handle the 300 baud (30 characters per sec- 
ond) data rate; some can handle any rate up to 710 
baud (450 and 600 are the most common), while 
others accept only 300 or 1,200 baud transmis- 
sions. The latter are usually using the Hayes 
SmartModem or a similar device compatible with 
the Beli 21 2A modem. 

You will also need a telecommunications pro- 
gram with two modes: one to allow your micro to 
act as a terminal, sending characters typed on the 
keyboard to the RCPM and displaying characters 
sent by the RCPM; and another to set up a "proto- 
col" for moving files from the RCPM to your ma- 
chine. Such programs are available from public 
domain libraries as well as commercially. Of the 



8 



-OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



public domain programs, MODEM712 and 
COMM723 are for 8080/Z80 micros, and PC-TALK 
for the IBM PC and its look-alikes; of the commer- 
cial programs, ASCOM (from Dynamic Micropro- 
cessor Associates in New York City) and MITE 
(from Mycroft Labs in Tallahassee, Florida) are 
among the most common. Both of these include 
the XMODEM protocols for communicating with 
large time-sharing computer networks such as 
CompuServe or The Source; :..: ■ 

To reduce both the disk storage required at the 
RCPM station and the time required for transmis- 
sion of a file, many source code and, documenta- 
tion files are "squeezed"; that is, they are 
compressed to half or two-thirds of their operating 
size by a special program called :SQUEEZEj]t Is 
difficult or impossible for a human ..-to -read a 
squeezed file because the compression process is 
almost equivalent to encrypting the file. To restore 
the file to readable form, you need to perform the 
reverse process by means of the UNSQUEEZE 
(USQ15) program; obviously, this should be the 
first program you obtain when you begin exploring 
RCPM stations. Some CPMUG and SIG/M disks 
also contain squeezed files, but such disks always 
include the Unsqueezeraswell. ■:;<■■■ 

CATALOGS ;.■■■■■' 

The CP/M Users' Group and SIG/M each produce 



a catalog of all the disk volumes in their libraries. 
These catalogs are arranged by volume number 
and contain listings in alphabetic order of the pro- 
gram names on each disk, followed by a brief one- 
to-two-line description of what each program does. 
The prices are $2.50 for the SIG/M catalog and $10 
for the CPMUG catalog. These catalogs are ade- 
quate as teasers or as reminders of what is con- 
tained on any disk volume. SIG/M also provides 
(and regularly updates) disk volume 0, containing 
the complete catalog in machine readable form. By 
the time you read this, there may also be a cross- 
reference disk available from a commercial source, 
listing the CPMUG and SIG/M programs both by 
name and by topic. .-:n.v n .; 

For more details of what the various programs 
doand howthey work, consult the printed volumes 
of the Catalog of Public Domain Software for CP/ 
M, published by the New York Amateur Computer 
Club, P.O. Box 106, New York, NY I0008. In these 
volumes, priced at $10 each, the volume abstract is 
reprinted in full, together with the full documenta- 
tion of most major programs. And as of December 
I983 the NYACC had published two printed vol- 
umes of their Catalog of Public Domain Software 
for the IBM PC, also at $1 each. 

Reviews of some of the most useful public do- 
main programs are in the Freeware chapter. Have 
fun exploringl«> 



ACCOUfUTIfUG 



Accounting applications are some of the most 
popular programs sold for microcomputers. 
While possibly not one of the most glamourous ap- 
plications of micros, they continuously rank in the 
top three along with word processing and spread- 
sheets. ■■■■ 

This is not really very surprising. Accounting, 
while necessary to all businesses, is to most people 
•—-including many accountants— dreary, uninter- 
esting detail work. The collection, storage, and pre- 
sentation of numerous small transactions is a 
perfect use for a computer. Machines don't mind 
doing the drudge work. ; 

All accounting applications are information man- 
agement systems. They are concerned with captur- 
ing Information on - financial transactions, 
analyzing this information, and presenting the re- 
sults in a format useful for various purposes. 
: We can divide these applications into three 
broad categories. These are "home and personal 
accounting," "generic accounting applications," 
and "vertical-market applications." •'••'•;" 

Home and personal accounting programs were 
the first of the serious applications— other than 
games — to appear for microcomputers. These 
originally consisted of electronic checkbooks 
and checkbook accounting systems. The problem 
with many of these early systems was that while 
they allowed you to disburse your checks into 
expense categories, it was often much easier to 
accomplish the entire process manually. Persona! 
accounting applications have greatly improved 
as the market has matured. In the reviews that 
follow, you will find software that eases the job 
of complex personal accounting. These pro- 
grams can handle the needs of many small home- 
run businesses; maintain, track, and analyze 
stock portfolios and other personal assets; and 
simplify: the process of planning for, and prepar- 
ing, your personal tax returns. ■..-. 

In evaluating this type of software, you should 
consider several things. The most important of 
these is whether it will take more time and energy 
to accomplish a particular task on computer than 
by doing it manually. This is called a cost-benefit 
approach. In general, this consists of determining 
that the costs of doing something in time, money, 
and energy expended do not exceed the expected 
benefits. This. type of analysis is most.often a sub- 
jective one. If you have an abundance of free time, 
the value of the hours might save by computerizing 



an application will be less than if you are very short 
on spare time. .-: 

The second consideration in choosing home 
software is ease of use. This is also frequently 
called user friendliness and consists of determin- 
ing just how much effort must go into learning and 
using the software. Is the software menu driven? If 
so, it will probably be much easier for a novice to 
use than learning complex commands. How well is 
the documentation written and from what point of 
view? Is there a tutorial to get you started? The 
importance of this depends on how experienced or 
inexperienced you are in using microcomputers. 
Again, this calls for a bit of judgement on your part. 

The most important consideration is utility. Does 
the, software actually do something you need 
done? This point is so. obvious that it often gets 
overlooked. Many home products are priced for im- 
pulse spending, and it's easy to get caught up in 
the ."it's-so-cheap-and-maybe-ril-find-a-use-for-it" 
syndrome. Try hard not to become a victim of this 
type of thinking, if you fail in this, however, don't 
be too hard on yourself. I've got several "electric 
checkbook" programs on the shelf that have never 
been unwrapped. They looked great at the time! : 

The second broad category of software con- 
sidered in the following reviews is generic account- 
ing. This type of software covers commonly found 
business applications including general ledger, ac- 
counts payable and receivable, payroll, inventory, 
and job cost. While the reviews of each package 
touch on features— both good and bad— of the in- 
dividual packages examined, there are some gen- 
eral considerations you should be aware of when 
considering generic accounting applications. . 

The first three of these are identical to those dis- 
cussed above under home and personal applica- 
tions: cost-benefit, ease of use, and utility. These 
are important considerations no matter what type 
of software interests you. 

In addition, there is a fourth general considera- 
tion. Generic accounting software is designed to 
be applied to a wide range of business sizes and 
types. When contemplating the purchase of a ge- 
neric package, you must determine how well a gen- 
eral package will meet your specific needs. Will it 
meet them 100 percent, which is unlikely, 90 per- 
cent, or 20 percent? Perhaps you would be better 
off with a more expensive vertical-market package 
if one is available? 

The easiest way to decide is to be prepared. Be- 



10 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



fore you look at any accounting software, sit down 
with a pad and pencil and determine to the best of 
your ability what you need, and want, in a particular 
accounting area. Businesses are like people: Every 
one of them is different. Have you found shortcuts 
that let you operate more efficiently? If so, will the 
software let you continue to take advantage of 
them? Are there areas in the running of your busi- 
ness that are especially weak? Will a particular 
software package help you strengthen these 
areas? What is it that you wish to accomplish by 
computerizing— better organization, faster turn- 
around of financial information, reduction in cost, 
or all of these? How strong is your background in 
accounting and bookkeeping? What about the per- 
son who will be using the software? Do you have 
an accountant? If so, will he be involved in helping 
you choose or install the software? 

All of these items make a difference, and they 
should be considered before you start to look at 
software. Spending a few hours beforehand can 
save days, weeks, and possibly months of trouble 
later. It-will also help you to make up a list of ques- 
tions to ask your computer dealer. How well he 
provides answers to your questions will help you 
determine not only whether you are looking at the 
right software package for you, but how much help 
you can expect after the sale. As many manufactur- 
ers of accounting software do not provide direct 
support to the end-user— they expect their dealers 
to provide this assistance — the level of dealer sup- 
port and expertise is an important consideration. 

While generic software may be suitable for your 
business, you may decide that you would be better 
off with a vertical-market package. These are soft- 
ware packages designed for specific types of busi- 
nesses. These can consist of time and billing 
systems for accountants, lawyers and other profes- 
sionals; medical management and billing for doc- 
tors and dentists; as well as other specialized 
packages. There are packages to manage apart- 
ment houses, bicycle stores, and flower shops. The 
major difference between these ' , verticaIs ,, and the 
generic applications is that the verticals are de- 
signed to offer features that are not commonly 
found in a more general application. For example, 
a doctor's accounts receivable must not only be 
able to track patient bills, but be able to generate 
forms for insurance companies. A restaurant ac- 
counting package might not only keep the books, 
but might allow the manager to calculate the cost 



of preparing a certain kind of meal, or track food 
spoilage. 

in evaluating vertical packages, all of the preced- 
ing suggestions apply. Additionally, there is one 
additional consideration. This is whether the spe- 
cialized package meets your needs better than a 
more general generic version. If it does, is it worth 
the additional cost? 

The reviews in this section should be used to 
help you select which software packages might 
meet your needs. Please remember that no re- 
viewer, no matter how experienced, can know your 
needs better than you do. The reviews are pre- 
sented to assist you, not substitute for your own 
judgement. Also realize that while we have at- 
tempted to review many of the popular packages, 
the fact that a particular package may not have 
been reviewed here does not mean the software is 
not a good package, only that we were not able to 
review it.°° . : . . *.■■■■! 

ACCOUNTING PLUS PC 

Accounting Plus PC's unassuming maroon box 
contains a pleasant surprise: modules to perform 
general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receiv- 
able, inventory control, purchase order, sales 
order, and payroll. All of these are used together as 
a single integrated accounting system. Accounting 
Plus PC is designed to be run on a hard disk. 

Installation is not a complex process, consisting 
primarily of transferring programs onto the hard 
disk. The procedure is simple and well docu- 
mented. Accounting Plus manuals, while not very 
impressive-looking, are organized effectively and 
are readily understandable. Sample data files are 
included to let you practice on the system before 
you start to work on your own books. 

Thumbing through the manuals and using the 
software is a lot like watching Clark Kent in a 
phone booth changing into Superman. You keep 
expecting to see a mild-mannered basic account- 
ing system, and they keep slipping in high-end fea- 
tures under your nose, with no great fanfare. 

General ledger contains all the things you would 
expect it to — journal entry, financial statements, 
and the like. It also gives you departmental report- 
ing, budget and variance reporting, comparative 
statements, and the ability to do extensive prior- 
year reporting. Your chart of accounts is not rigidly 
predefined, although account ranges are sug- 
gested. If departmentalization is desired, the de- 



Accounting 



11 



partment number is entered separately from the 
account number. This approach seems much bet- 
ter than the setups where the department is desig- 
nated by the last digit or digits of the account 
number. . 

Accounting Plus's accounts receivable also has 
features that make it a pleasure to use. These in- 
clude its ability to allow up to 64 line items per 
invoice, to post repetitive invoices automatically, 
and the automatic placing of dunning notes on 
statements with past-due balances. Another nice 
feature is the ability to apply a payment to the old- 
est invoice by just typing in "Old" during payment 
entry. The system will also automatically total an 
invoice, compare this total to the customer's credit 
limit, and if the invoice exceeds this limit, ask you 
whether you want to accept or reject the invoice. 
When posting to the G/L, the manual even instructs 
you what accounts are usually debited and 
credited for recording payments, debit or credit 
memos, and deposits. 

Accounts payable is not a very exciting applica- 
tion, but Accounting Pius manages to add some 
nice touches. The system will automatically post 
repetitive entries. It allows different passwords for 
each function. A particularly impressive feature is 
the systems -'priority code." This lets you rate, 
from 1 to 9, the importance of paying a particular 
vendor, and displays this information in cash re- 
quirements reports. A/P also permits you to enter 
up to 20 different terms codes. The system comes 
set up with the codes for COD and Prepaid, which 
can't be removed. 

These thoughtful 'touches are also evident in the 
payroll system. To illustrate the payroll process, 
the manual shows a sample check calculation as 
done by hand. The software contains tax tables for 
all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Payroll 
keeps track of an employee's last and next salary 
review date, and can record when an employee's 
raise is due to go into effect. The system also tracks 
payroll withholding tax deposit liabilities and pay- 
ments. This is a very unusual, and extremely help- 
ful, feature. P/R also permits you to define many of 
the maxima, such as FICA Limit, FUTA and SUI 
maxima, and even a maximum limit for deducting 
disability insurance. If you have employees with 
loans or garnishes, the system will let you enter the 
number of weeks the deduction Is to be taken out 
The system will make the deduction for the number 
of weeks specified, then stop. ; . • 



Surprisingly enough, the payroll module also 
contained a few flaws. The system will not allow 
you to pay overtime to a salaried employee. This is 
not an uncommon situation, and the capability 
should be provided. Another is the system's inabil- 
ity to list employees alphabetically. You can get 
this list only by employee number or employee 
number within department number. 

In ail, ASK Micro has done a great job on Ac- 
counting Plus PC. it is an excellent package for 
beginning users in almost any size business. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, or CP/M-80, 64K 
RAM; IBM PC, 96K RAM; hard disk, 132-column 
printer 
ASK Micro, $495 each module 

BOOKKEEPING 

This is a double-entry accounting system. The 
program allows the recording of daily income and 
expenses and produces standard accounting re- 
ports each month. The reports the program will 
generate are: complete lists of monthly transac- 
tions; trial balance; income statement; balance 
sheet; statement of retained earnings; and state- 
ment of changes in financial position. The program 
will keep track of individual enterprises by owner- 
ship, with up to three partners for each enterprise. 
It wili maintain a history of 18 months of income 
and expense activity, allowing you to compare last 
year's activity to the current year. The system does 
error checking and has a built-in security system 
for control of access to information. The program 
will list all or part of the transactions during an 
accounting month, either by entry order or account 
number order. It will also list all transactions by 
type, such as cash receipts, cash disbursements, 
accounts payable, and payroll. 

Within the package you'll receive two program 
disks, a sample data disk, and two backup disks. 
You also receive a three-ring notebook for storing 
the documentation and program disks, a primer on 
double-entry bookkeeping to help you understand 
the concept and its advantages over single-entry 
accounting, and a comprehensive instruction man- 
ual, which is helpful for learning to use the pro- 
gram. 

Requirements: Apple II + or lie, 48K RAM, DOS 3.3; 
TRS-80 Model III, 48K RAM, TRS-DOS 1.3 or newer; 
IBM PC, 64K RAM; two disk drives; 80-column 
printer. 
Successful Farming Management Software, $500 



12 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



BOOKS!— THE ELECTRIC LEDGER 

Switching from a manual to a computerized 
bookkeeping operation can be a traumatic experi- 
ence, even for those who know what they are 
doing. For the average small-business owner who 
understands neither bookkeeping nor computers, 
the conversion can be much worse. 

Systems Plus has attempted to ease this transi- 
tion with their introduction of BOOKS! BOOKS! is 
advertised as "The Electric Ledger," and just as 
VisiCalc (and others) simulates a piece of analysis 
paper, BOOKS! is an electronic simulation of a 
ledger sheet-based set of books. 

To a large extent, they have succeeded in what 
they set out to do. BOOKS! handles very much like 
a manual set of books. Transactions are entered 
one journal line at a time. BOOKS! then takes over 
and at the user's command automatically posts the 
transactions to the general ledger, generates the 
financial statements, and prints checks and in- 
voices. BOOKS! also has the ability to do recurring 
journal entries and budgeting with job cost. 

The BOOKS! system consists of a core module, 
general ledger, and optional modules for A/R (in- 
voicing), A/P (check writing), recurring entries, and 
budgeting. These capabilities are built into the 
software, but must be de-encrypted with a pass- 
word from your dealer before they will work prop- 
erly. These optional modules can be de-encrypted 
at any time, adjusting any information previously 
entered into the system. 

Setting up BOOKS! was a fairly straightforward 
process. Systems Plus provides eight sample 
charts of accounts for different kinds of businesses 
(service, retail, manufacturing, etc.) These can 
serve as an excellent starting point for many users. 
The documentation is not well organized, however, 
and forces the user to jump between the front and 
back of. the manual to configure and start up the 
software. Also confusing is the terminology 
BOOKS! uses to describe their chart of accounts 
organization. Bookkeeping terms are used, but not 
with their normal meanings. 

There was also a technical difficulty: The printer 
kept shifting into 40-column print. A Star Gemini 
10X, it is an Epson MX-80 clone and it never had 
this difficulty with other programs. However, 
whether the problem lies with BOOKS! or the 
printer could not be determined. BOOKS! supports 
the MS-80, among others. 

BOOKS! is accompanied by a thin but adequate 



manual contained in an attractive album case. The 
manual contains two tutorials, one on bookkeep- 
ing fundamentals, and one dealing with how to use 
the software. 

Software Pius designed BOOKS! to be an easy- 
to-use bookkeeping system for the smaller busi- 
ness. They have succeeded to a large extent. They 
have provided an easy-to-use computerized system 
that will not intimidate anyone with manual book- 
keeping experience. While the software and docu- 
mentation appears to be a little rough, BOOKS! 
should appeal to those looking for an easy-to-use 
basic computer bookkeeping system. 
Requirements: Apple, IBM PC; CP/M or MS-DOS; 
64K RAM, two disks drives, printer 
Systems Plus, $345 ■■,■■■.■■■■., ;:..:•, 

BPI ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE 

BPI Systems is one of the oldest and largest sup- 
pliers of accounting software for micros. Available 
for a wide range of systems, their program has 
been improved and refined over the years. The soft- 
ware evaluated for this review was for the IBM PG, 
and although the packages vary in minor details 
from hardware system to system, to a great extent 
they are identical in features. : 

The mainstay of any accounting system is the 
general ledger. This is a company's main set of 
books, and all subsidiary ledgers, such as ac- 
counts payable and receivable, feed into it. BPI of- 
fers a General Accounting System containing a 
general ledger, accounts payable and receivable 
ledgers, and a payroll ledger. In addition, they have 
stand-alone accounts payable, accounts receiv- 
able, payroll, inventory, job cost, time and billing, 
business analyst, and church management. All of 
these are designed to be used either as stand-alone 
applications or integrated with the GAS to improve 
on the general accounts system's subsidiary ledg- 
ers. 

All BPI applications have several features in com- 
mon. The documentation for all applications is tu- 
torial, and offers a practice set of books to learn 
on. People tend either to love or to hate BPI's doc- 
umentation. Most beginners like the tutorial ap- 
proach, but many more experienced users disdain 
what they consider extraneous verbiage. While BPI 
does not provide a reference manual for them, at 
least they have a good index that does provide 
some help for the more experienced user. : 

Another similarity between BPI's various pack- 



Accounting 



13 



ages is their general format. AH are menu-driven, 
and the menus have the same general appearance. 
Whether you are working with the GAS, payroll, or 
inventory, menu choice 4 allows you to enter the 
company code and date, and menu choice 6 is al- 
ways used to turn the printer on and off. All sys- 
tems have the same general operation flow. You 
first enter data to the various journals, then post 
the ledgers, print reports, and close the period. 
This consistency means that once you have 
[earned to use one of BPI's packages, you will be 
able to use any of them with very little additional 
learning time. 

Also consistent from application to application is 
the "operations queue." This excellent feature al- 
lows you to enter a series of operations, which the 
computer will then execute automatically. The 
most common use of this feature is to enter a series 
of reports to be printed. Tell the system to execute 
the queue, and you can walk away from your ma- 
chine until all the reports have been printed. ■ 

All BPI packages also share the extensive use of 
user-definable prompts to ease data entry. The 
General Accounting System allows you to define 
prompts for customers, vendors, and employees. 
You assign numbers, names, and general ledger 
account distribution accounts to people or compa- 
nies you receive money from, pay wages to, or pur- 
chase products or services from. Then, when 
entering a transaction into the system, you type in 
a letter— C for customer, V for vendor, or E for 
employee — and their assigned number. The sys- 
tem pulls up onto the screen their name and gen- 
eral ledger accounts you have specified. You 
distribute the amounts into the proper G/L : ac- 
counts, and the transaction is completed with a 
minimum of keystrokes. If you do a lot of business 
with the same people month after month, this fea- 
ture can be a tremendous time-saver. 

Also common between the packages reviewed 
was a single level password. This optional pass- 
word, while better than nothing, is substantially 
less useful than the multi-level passwords that 
some other software uses to give operators access 
to one function, such as data entry, while barring 
them from more sensitive functions. 

A very exciting feature is to be found under the 
chapter heading "Creating External Entries." In 
this chapter, BPI gives you the file layout for the 
General Journal file. If you are a bit of a program- 
mer, you can use this information to interface non- 



BPI software directly into BPI's General Account- 
ing. This is very useful if your other applications 
produce accounting information that should be re- 
flected in your genera! ledger. 

The GAS allows you to have approximately 2,000 
accounts divided between the general ledger and 
the various prompts. Accounts receivable permits 
1,000 customer accounts, 2,000 on hard disk. Ac- 
counts payable allows for 200 casual vendors, 450 
regular vendors, and 1,000 vouchers, while payroll 
permits 230 employees per data disk on floppy- 
based systems, and 6,000 employees on hard-disk 
systems. '■' : 

Each application has numerous reports, all stan- 
dard features, and functions well as a stand-alone 
application. When integrated with the GeneraP Ac- 
counting System, the stand-alone ledger will re- 
place the one supplied in the GAS. For example, if 
you are using both the accounts receivable ^nd 
GAS, the ledger from the A/R package will replace 
GAS A/R subsidiary ledger. ; 

While as a rule, BPI's packages are very well de- 
signed, there are a few limitations that might re- 
strict your use in some situations. Two hinge on 
the account structure of the 1 general ledger. BPI 
uses a four-digit account number in its chart of 
accounts. The right-most digit is used to depart- 
mentalize income statement accounts. Thus, ac- 
count #8021 might be Telephone Expense-Dept 1, 
while account #8202 would be Telephone Ex- 
pense-Dept 2. This is a common method of coding 
and provides the system with up to ten depart- 
ments. The subaccounts, 1 through 9, are automat- 
ically consolidated into the "zero" account when 
the balance sheet is printed. This inability to pro- 
vide departmental balance sheets is a serious de- 
fect in an otherwise excellent system. 

One other limitation is that the account ranges 
are predefined by the system. Current assets must 
be in the range of accounts 1,000 through 1,499, 
and so on. While you may or may not be affected by 
this, you should know this limitation exists. 

BPI has tended to concentrate on a specific mar- 
ket segment-those small businesses computerizing 
for the first time. Their systems are relatively com- 
plete and uncomplicated, and their documentation 
is aimed at the beginner. If you fall into the cate- 
gory of beginner or are interested in a proven sys- 
tem, BPI's software is definitely worth a look. 
Requirements: Apple II, ||'+; lie, or III, 64K RAM; 
IBM PC, 128K RAM; two disk drives, printer 



14 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



BPI Systems, General Accounting System $595; 
Accounts /Receivable $595; Accounts Payable 
$595; Payroll $595; inventory $595; Job Cost $795; 
Church Management $795...; 



THE BUSINESS LIBRARY 

The first thing that you notice about -The Busi- 
ness Library is its packaging, a red binder with 
black spine in a black plastic slipcasel it's abso- 
lutely gorgeous. Then you unwrap the binders, 
thumb through the documentation, and wonder, 
"How am l going to install and use this?" This is 
one series of packages that is definitely not for be- 
ginners. ; : 
.This is not necessarily a bad thing. Many compa- 
nies want the equivalent of a mainframe-or mini- 
based package with a micro-sized price. The Busi- 
ness Library is it,top-oMhe-line software you can 
hand to a data processing manager and not have 
him or her sneer at you. 

The Business Library is an integrated series of 
six accounting; applications modules^-General 
Ledger /and Report : -Writer, Accounts Payable, Ac- 
counts Receivable, Inventory Control and Bill of 
Materials, Payroll, and Sales Order. Entry, The en- 
tire series is integrated around a seventh package, 
The Librarian, which provides a master .menu 
structure for access to the individual applications. 
The Librarian also provides system supervisory 
functions such as password security and ; access to 
operating-system utilities. Password security is not 
optional with this software; it must be installed and 
used. The individual applications can be used as 
stand-alone packages on, a floppy disk-based con- 
figuration. . . 

To integrate more than one application or use 
The Librarian's master menu, you must use the 
software on a hard-disk system. As these packages 
are. .more suitable for a multicompany/multiuser set 
up,, a hard disk or network is a reasonably require- 
ment. ._':'■" '■=■■..■.'■■:■ 

. While initial set up pf the system is rather com- 
plex, using the software is relatively simple — cer- 
tainly no more difficult then many lower-end 
software packages.. 

The series as a whole has all the standard fea- 
tures one expects. It also has some nice bonuses. 
All of the data entry screens are very attractive and 
easy to use. The individual packages offer a good 
selection of reports, and in .'several the report for- 



mats are user-definable. The reports offer various 
levels of detail, depending on who they are in- 
tended for, and most can be either printed immedi- 
ately or sent to. the disk for future attention. 

The .quality of the documentation varies enor- 
mously within the same binder. Overall, it seems 
acceptable, but not exceptional. Worksheets that 
accompany each: application, they are well laid out 
and useful. One thing in particular is really impres- 
sive. Every few pages, at the bottom of the page, is 
a message: "***Always make backup copies of 
data***." Too few manuals give the important pro- 
cess of back-up the emphasis it needs. 
.-.; One operating problem appears throughout the 
entire series. Almost all alphabetic entries must be 
entered in uppercase. If you forget to lock the key- 
board, you will most likely get an error message. 
This is minor, but in such a pricey system as this, 
the software should automatically convert -imput 
into uppercase, if uppercase is truly needed. ; 

The individual applications all have some nice 
bells and whistles. Business Library's general 
ledger is capable of maintaining transaction detail 
for -a: full year if sufficient disk space is available; 
Account summary amounts may be maintained for 
24 periods,; and 12 periods of budget figures may 
also be kept. The G/L allows you to go back into 
closed, periods and post adjustments. It also per- 
mits you to set up recurring entries. . ■■. 

The "Management Report Generator" gives the 
G/L extensive formatting options. While this report 
generator is not. especially easy to use given the 
less then excellent documentation,: the task is con- 
siderably eased by the separate "Sample Manage- 
ment Report Formatting Guide." 
. The software also allows you to define your own 
journals by means of a "journal number," an al- 
phanumeric field up. to five characters long. This 
allows fairly descriptive codes, such as "CR," 
"CD," "AR," "AP," "PR," and ViNVNT," . , 

G/L does not permit you to enter an entry where 
debits do: not equal credits. While this is not an 
unusual feature by itself, many G/Ls built around a 
database do permit unbalanced entries. ... ■ ■ . 

The accounts receivable and accounts payable 
share many features. Both have numerous reports 
and are able to handle recurring entries. As with 
the general ledger, both; systems feature work- 
sheets to ease set up, and provide a "log" file that 
contains a record of all, additions, deletions, and 
changes. Youmay also proceed from one period to 



Accounting 



15 



the next without having to close the previous pe- 
riod. 

Business Library's payroll also has some nice 
features, including the ability to produce labor dis- 
tribution and union reports. One unusual feature 
allows you to input a temporary pay rate for an 
hourly or salaried employee. Payroll would, how- 
ever, benefit from the inclusion of an input work- 
sheet for collecting employee hours for the system. 
Several of the better payroll systems available have 
this helpful report, and it seems a bit unusat for an 
otherwise high-end package like this one to omit it. 

The Business Library is a powerful high-end ac- 
counting series severely hampered by so-so docu- 
mentation. The users most likely to appreciate 
Business Library are those who operate in a multi- 
company/multiuser situation. For them, Business 
Library is a good choice. If you have less extensive 
needs — or less experience— you will probably be 
happier with a package that is easier to install. : 

Software Libraries does offer an extensive "Cus- 
tomer Satisfaction Plan," which includes a toll-free 
telephone number for support, an independent in- 
stallation and service network staffed by CPAs and 
other experts, and a series of video training tapes. 
While the last two items are not free, If you get 
stuck or have a problem, you'll be glad to have 
them available. r . : ■"■"■'■ 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, MS-DOS 1.X or 
2.X, two floppy disks or hard disk, printer 
Software Libraries, General Ledger $595; Accounts 
Receivable $595; Accounts Payable $595; Payroll 
$595; Inventory Control $695; Sales Order Entry 
$695; The Librarian $195 



THE CHAMPION 

The Champion is a five-module accounting se- 
ries comprised of general ledger, accounts pay- 
able, accounts receivable, payroll, and inventory. It 
is unusual in that it was the first widely distributed 
application software package written in dBASE II, 
rather than in a standard programming language. 

The use of dBASE as the programming language 
provides both advantages and disadvantages. The 
major advantages it provides The Champion with 
are a central database organization and extremely 
compact code. 

Building a series of applications around a central 
database is a great boon. It allows for integration 
of the application through shared access of data. 



Once a transaction has been keyed into one appli- 
cation the information becomes available to other 
applications which the transaction might affect. 
This is especially important in accounting as infor- 
mation from the A/R, A/P, payroll, and inventory 
must eventually be reflected in the general ledger. 
The Champion makes good use of this feature. 

This type of organization also permits The Cham- 
pion to offer realtime updating. This means that 
the software updates the files as soon as a trans- 
action has been entered. There is no separate 
posting function. This is not only a timesaver; it 
allows you to run a financial statement after each 
entry to see the effect of the transaction. This 
isn't something you would want to do very often, 
but it is a handy bonus while making up adjusting 
entries. : 

Champion also makes efficient use of disk stor- 
age. Data files are compact and it is one of the few 
full-featured multiple application systems that can 
be practically run on floppy-based hardware. 

Champion also suffers from some of dBASE IPs 
disadvantages. dBASE is slow, and this makes The 
Champion a bit slower than some written in a com- 
piled language. While this is noticeable, It is not 
particularly objectionable. There are systems r on 
the market that run much slower than The Cham- 
pion. Use of a hard disk or RAM disk speeds things 
up a bit. ; - : 

A second dBASE disadvantage from which 
Champion suffers is screen presentation. dBASE 
does not provide for full-screen data entry. Ch am- 
pion has overcome this to a degree, but the result 
is not particularly attractive. 

These few criticisms are greatly outnumbered by 
The Champion's positive features: an extensive 
"Help" facility available at a press of the "?" key; 
files can be recovered automatically or manually in 
the event of a hardware failure; error checking is 
extensive; report generation is fairly flexible; and 
the ability to start entering a second month's trans- 
actions without having to close out the first month 
is a great convenience. This is a particularly useful 
feature for companies that make monthly adjusting 
entries. 

The individual applications also have some at- 
tractive' features. The general ledger module pro- 
vides for both cash disbursements and receipts 
and general journal entry. The system provides not 
only the standard reports but also subsidiary 
schedules to the financial statements/Financial 



16 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



statements can be generated on an individual 
basis, consolidated basis, ; departmental basis, or 
evenfor an individual job. .3 
..; Accounts: receivable allows for up to nine levels 
of discounts, has order entry and, point-of-sales 
functions, and maintains open-order and back- 
order files. It can also provide for up to 62 sales tax 
codes. A/R can provide a gross profit analysis total 
on each invoice. This report can be helpful in pin- 
pointing excessive or incorrect discount levels. .•..= ;..: 

Champion's accounts payable permits unlimited 
G/L distribution of an invoice and automatically 
computes; the discount if an invoice is paid within 
the discount time. It also prohibits overpayment : of 
an invoice. :.;■. 

■.iThe. Inventory' module provides standard features 
as well as allowing you to maintain your inventory 
by product groups or subgroups. Champion pro- 
vides for inventory item numbers of up to ten al- 
phanumeric characters, which allows you to assign 
a meaningful identifier to each item. It will also pro- 
vide the, cost of a suggested purchase. This ap- 
proach is better than just automatically issuing a 
purchase order when a reorder point is reached. 
One defect: of Champion's inventory, .however; is. 
that it imaintains the inventory on a weighted aver- 
age cost. While this is a iegitimate method of valu- 
ing,., many : other packages ; offer the , ability to 
maintain your inventory on a last-in, first-out basis. 

Champion's payroll has ail standard payroll fea- 
tures; but also has its share of design deficiencies. 
For.exampie, the system does not update the files 
until, a// .of the checks are printed. If your system or 
printer goes down after you have.printed 150 out of 
151 checks, you will have to destroy the checks and 
repnn.t them, al| again. The system also requires 
you to set up a local tax as a deduction code, which 
must then be used every time; this tax is needed. 
Many, micro-based payroll, systems automatically 
handle this chore in their tax tables. ; 

Using The Champion \s simple. The entire system 
is : menu-driven and extensive on-line help is avail- 
able at the: press of the ";?!' key. The manual, while 
not; particularly ; attractive, is well organized and 
contains all the information needed to install and 
use the: system. The manual would improve from 
being typeset,; and a good index (there is none cur- 
rently) would be appreciated. 
;. installation presents: no problems. The.instruc- 
tionsare clear, and several default charts of ac- 
counts are .provided. The size of the .. manual 



dealing with installation is a little unnerving, how- 
ever. It is 105 pages long I 

. You will need a "security code" from Champion 
Software to enter over 200 transactions.. As enter- 
ing your beginning entries can take up many of 
these, you should print the application for a secu- 
rity code as soon as possible.This is done as part 
of the installation process, so don't plan on install- 
ing your software and entering a half year's worth 
of transactions the same day. : ■.. 

Sometimes a software package. knocks you out 
the first time you look at jt. Most don't, and Th e 
Champion Is one of these. It is, like many others, a 
good basic system with both frills and problems. 
Champion offers some.: very nice -features, but. 
could use a bit more maturing.::.: 
Requirements: CP/M-80, 64K RAM; MS-DOS 1.X, 
1 28K RAM ; two disk drives, printer , , 
Champion Software Corp., General Ledger $495; 
Accounts .Receivable : $495^ Accounts , Payable 
$495; Inventory $495; Payroll $495 



CLIENT LEDGER SYSTEM 

The Client Ledger System (CLS) is a general 
ledger "write up" system for accountants, book- 
keeping services, and other companies: with a need 
for a significantly enhanced generahledger pack- 
age. CLS appears to have started life as TCS Soft- 
ware's general ledger, as many of the screens and 
reports appear identical. CLS goes : way beyond 
TCS's standard G/L, both in the reports it. offers 
and in additional features. V- 

Accountants and others offering client book- 
keeping services need great versatility both in the 
type of reports they offer their clients and in the 
way those reports are presented. CLS offers a mul- 
titude of reports, including all three standard finan- 
cial statements— balance sheet, income statement, 
and .changes in financial position, Jt. is, capable of 
multiple-company consolidations, maintaining 
completely separate general ledgers for the com- 
panies being consolidated, and up to three levels 

of departmental summaries.; : v;:;i 
balance sheets and income statements can be 

formatted almost any way you can think of. They 
can be produced on a comparative basis, and can 
include subsidiary schedules. 

The system can also generate trial-balance work- 
sheets used to make up adjusting entries, handle 
repetitive journal ; entries, and provide client trans- 



Accounting 



19 



double-entry accounting system, and another key- 
stroke will print a trial balance to verify that all ac- 
counts were entered correctly. : 

Entering sales, receipts, disbursements, and 
general journal entries is equally easy. The entry 
screen already has the session and document num- 
bers; you just fill in the blanks. At the end, a key- 
stroke will produce document listing to confirm 
that the entries were accurate.: Another keystroke 
posts the entries to the general ledger and prints a 
copy of the transactions.- ; 

A nice feature is automatic entry reversal; With- 
out it, it's easy to credit when we should have been 
debiting and vice versa. This throws things out of 
kilter by double the amount. To fix things, the pro- 
gram simply reverses the entries, and your problem 
Is solved. 

The chart of accounts, 1 the trial balance, the doc- 
ument summary, and the posting summary are 
among the package's major report formats. Three 
others are available: the ledger detail, income 
statement, and balance. sheet. ; 
^ The program has many nice features. It is easy to 
run, and it will not let you make an unbalanced 
entry or delete a non-zero balance account without 
considerable effort. The screen displays are excel- 
lent, editing features are very good, and the pro- 
gram is reasonably fast despite being written in 
BASIC. Your needs may dictate using another 
package. But if they are relatively uncomplicated, 
this general ledger is a good choice. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model II, 12, or 16, 64K 
RAM, disk drive ■^■- 
Radio Shack, $199 - : - 

GENERAL LEDGER 

This program is part of a new COBOL-based ac- 
counting series from Radio Shack. The series con- 
sists of G/L, Accounts Payable, i Accounts 
Receivable, and. Payroll. Each may be used as a 
stand-alone program or, with three disk drives, 
linked to the general ledger for automatic posting. 

Where many such programs produce reports 
only in one format, this one allows many. In turn, it 
requires more effort to set up. In addition to enter- 
ing the chart of active accounts, you must supply 
accounts that are essentially main and subhead- 
ings for reports and others that total your active 
accounts at various levels. Much of the manual is 
devoted to this process. 

As you design and enter the account structure, 



you must assign each entry to its category: asset, 
liability, capital, revenue, cost of goods, expense, 
or other. Each entry must also be designated as 
active, or as a main or memo heading. Thus, the 
way in which reports are arranged and totaled and 
subtotaled is quite flexible. Setting it up takes a fair 
amount of work but is fairly free of problems. 

The G/L allows up to 100 accounts and up to 
1,150 transactions per month. You may enter up to 
100 transactions before posting them to the ledger. 
Transactions are assigned a number for the audit 
trail in addition to the date and reference number. 
Transaction sessions are not numbered. The sys- 
tem will not let you post out-of-balance transac- 
tions or delete accounts with a non-zero balance. ^ 

Where some G/Ls are designed to post both 
sides of a double-entry transaction on a single 
screen display, this one displays each debit or 
credit as a separate screen and entry. Just fill in the 
account number and transaction data, edit as 
needed, and move to the balancing entry. The date, 
description,, and reference number may be copied 
fromthepreceding entry by hitting Enter. '■'''■■ 

The bottom of the screen displays the running 
total of debits and credits entered to the same ref- 
erence number and the reference information on 
that last entry. You may also elect at any time to 
inquire about, change, or delete a prior entry. : 

The system provides reports of posted or un- 
posted transactions, an account list, and an ac- 
count history with ending balances for the previous 
year and all months to present period. Other re- 
ports, accessed from the ''End of Period Proce- 
dures" at the main menu, include trial balance, 
general ledger, income statement, cost of goods 
sold, and balance sheet. All of these may be printed 
at any time." 

A nice touch is an optional trial balance work- 
sheet. On the printout, it shifts account information 
to the left and provides two columns of blanks at 
the right in which to work up any adjusting debits 
or credits that may be needed prior to end-of-pe- 
riod close. This feels like the work of an accoun- 
tant/-.-' 

The program is not difficult to run. The menus 
are good, and the commands and keyboard con- 
trols are convenient. However, it is not particularly 
fast; when you do an End-of-Period close, you 
might as well get some coffee and take a break. 
And there are some other flaws as well: To save 
disk space, the package comes with an abbreviated 



20 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



DOS that omits too many features that experienced 
computer users will miss, it is set up to use only 
Radio Shack printers. And setting it up and enter- 
ing a chart of accounts takes more work than it 
should. . . 

On the good side, it is a competent system run- 
ning in a competent machine at a reasonable price. 
It wiii run. alone or may be linked initially or later to 
other reasonably priced accounting programs. 

The documentation is comprehensive and gen- 
erally readable. However, it is not very well orga- 
nized. The main sections of the manual include a 
short Introduction, a sample session, a discussion 
of how to convert from your system to this one. 
Everything you need is in there somewhere, but 
this structure forces you to do a lot of page flip- 
ping. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Model III, 48K RAM, or 
Model 4, 64K RAM; two disk drives; 132-column 
printer. ■■o.-:- ! 

Radio Shack, $199;. 

GENERAL LEDGER (STATE OF THE ART) 

The first thing that strikes anyone examining the 
State Of The Art GIL is the packaging^ After slip- 
ping the binder out of the siipcase, you find that it 
has little velcro tabs that allow the binder to be- 
come an easel. You will also discover that there is 
a compartment in the binder to store your disks 
and a package of preprinted disk labels for your 
use. i This clever packaging encloses a nice basic 
general ledger system. It's not as fancy as the pack- 
aging, but certainly workable. 

This software is strictly a general ledger. It allows 
you to input journal entries for the various journals, 
print a journal report listing, post the entries, and 
print a trial balance, general ledger, and financial 
statements. Budgeting and departmental or com- 
parative financial statements are not available from 
this basic package. These features can be added 
With the addition of an extra-cost optional module. 

The manual, though a bit sparse, is Well orga- 
nized. A good part of the manual is devoted to set- 
ting up' the system and, although the manual 
provides several pages of an accounting theory tu- 
torial, you are expected to at least have some famil- 
iarity with double-entry bookkeeping 
fundamentals. State Of The Art provides you with 
handy worksheets to help you organize your setup. 

Also provided is practice data. Rather than in- 
cluding sample data files on disk as is common, 



SOTA has provided this information on paper, in 
the form of an end-of-period trial balance of "Your 
Company." This is done to acquaint you with the 
process of setting up your books in midyear and 
give you a bit of experience on data entry before 
you start on your real books. :.■■■•■■■.-■■■'■■: 

The State Of The Art general ledger is a "bare- 
bones" system well suited for the beginner with 
modest accounting needs. If you have no need or 
desire for the features in other fancier systems, you 
may want to look at it. it runs well and provides the 
basic functions necessary in a general ledger. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lia, 64K RAM; IBM 
PC, 128K RAM; two disk drives, printer i. , 
State of the Art, $595 .; 



HARDISK ACCOUNTING SERIES 

Accounting software, like most other kinds, is 
usually either easy to use and limited in capacity or 
capability, or very sophisticated and much more 
difficult to use. It is unusual for accounting soft- 
ware both to be easy to use andto provide a high 
level of sophistication and features. Hardisk Ac- 
counting by Great Plains Software manages to do 
both.- 

It is unusual in another respect as well; While 
many software producers recommend strongly that 
their programs be run on a hard disk, -Great Plains 
insists on it. While restricting their packages to a 
hard-disk system immediately cuts Great Plains out 
of a nice piece of the market, it also allows them to 
avoid the compromises that other software firms 
use to minimize disk requirements. By avoiding 
these compromises, Great Plains was able to tune 
their packages to a hard-disk environment and it 
shows. The packages run beautifully! . 

Installing the system is reasonably simple. First, 
complete the sizing charts included in each appli- 
cation manual. Transfer the figures into the general 
ledger sizing chart when installing multiple appli- 
cations. Finally, activate the "Autoload" process. 
The manual states the process takes a total of 
about 3 minutes; in fact, it can take over 20. 

Each application system — genera! ledger, A/R, A/ 
P, inventory with point-of-sale, and payroll — in- 
cludes demonstration data to be used with an ex- 
cellent tutorial. The tutorials are short— the G/L 
tutorial is 28 pages— but are complete and will give 
you a good understanding of the systems features 
and abilities and how they are used. .- 



Accounting 



17 



mittal letters, such as compilation or review re- 
ports. - T v ? ■■■•' ' : --'''.' i ' : ' : ' ! "' i : :;: '' 

] CL3 also has depreciation and -amortization 
modules that allow you to produce these schedules 
using various methods of computation. " 
-A necessary function of a write-up system is a 
good method of tracking various clients' -payroll 
figures. CLS has an excellent after-the-fact payroll 
system, providing not only the required quarterly 
reports, but also year-end W-2s and 1099s. 

CLS is menu-driven and not particularly difficult 
to use. Set-up of the system is a different story. Any 
software that is as flexible as this package requires 
a bit of effort to get going. The fancier you decide 
to get as far as formatting and features, the more 
effort you should expect to have to put in^Setup, 
while requiring an organized approach,- is not an 
impossible task. Just don't expect to rush through 

it-- /-■:;M-::b-;: ;..;::; ii^v: ■.■:■..*■■■;-. ■:■: ■:■;■■■:■■ 

Client write-up is a rather specialized applica- 
tion; 'and it will not be suitable for everyone. If, 
however, you can use a write-up system, CLS is an 

excellent one. ■■■'■"■■ m;: ;.;■■. ■■■■■;/■:::/: 

Requirements: CP/M-80, 64K RAM, MS-DQS 1 .X, 
96K RAM; 2 disk drives, 132-column printer 
TCS Softwares, price set by deafer 

CLIENT MANAGER 

Client Manager is a general ledger package with 
enhancements for accountants, bookkeeping ser- 
vices, and some businesses that must serve a wide 
variety of clients with different heeds and organi- 
zational setups. ; 

Client Manager permits you to maintain multiple- 
client ledgers on different fiscal years. You can 
keep extensive payroll information on your client's 
employees and generate quarterly and yearly re- 
ports. The package also provides extensive report 
formatting capability. This feature is relatively easy 
to use and allows you to set up different financial 
statement presentations for different clients/ As 
Client Manager can keep an account balance his- 
tory, these financial statements can be made on a 
comparative basis. 

The package- also allows you to generate the 
third basic financial statement; changes in finan- 
cial position. This statement is often necessary and 
is infrequently found in micro-based general ledg- 
ers. Other enhancements are the inclusion of a 
loan amortization module, fixed-asset listing, and 
the ability to reconcile bank statements. :: 



••"'= A handy feature is the ability to track client activ- 
ity. 1 This provides you with a list of each client with 
a summary of total computer time spent on each 
and total transactions for the client. This is conve- 
nient if you bill clients on a time-spent basis; -" 

Using Client Manager is simple. Once a client 
has been set up (eased by the system 's three de- 
fault charts of accounts) all transactions other than 
payroll are entered in the format of a journal entry. 
The most difficult part of using this package is the 
initial client setup and report formatting. This pro- 
cess is no more difficult than the equivalent func- 
tions in ;i a standard G/L; Default reports are 
included if you wish to use them. 
■The one feature the package doesn't provide is a 
builtjn facility to generate a compilation or review 
report. This is a surprising lack in a write-up ; pack- 
age. '}:■ : '■■ ■ l ' : - !: r - > '■ ■ ; ' ; ! ■ " ■ : - - : ■ ■ ■'■■'■'' ■■ '■ ; - : ■'■'■ '■■■ f ■" ; ■■ ■ i ■'■;■■ 
Whether or not ■ you need a write-up 'system 
rather than just a/general ledger is a decision you 
will have to :: make. Many of the features qf this 
package are available in several of the more ad- 
vanced general ledgers on the market. If ;you -feel 
you must have a write-up system, you could do 
worse than this one. While It is hot an exceptional 
piece of software, it provides a fair measure-' of 

Value. ■ :; ' i ■:'■■:■■■'■■■.■ ■■■:■■ ;.>.;■ '•'■.■■■■■■v : : / ■?::■. :.",■;■. - : .v:y>:: . 
Requirements: GP/M-80 or MP/M, 64K RAMf MS- 
DOS 2;X, 128 RAM; two disk drives, printer ■'■ ■- 
Systems Plus, price setby individual dealer n 

CYMA ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE 

• -Cyma's accounting packages most certainly ac- 
complish the basics of required of an accounting 
series. They also provide some interesting -vari- 
ances from the standard basic packages that are 
worth pointing out. 

One impressive feature is the reports. While not 
as numerous as some other packages reviewed, 
the ones that are available are exceptionally useful. 
An example of this is Cyma's general ledger sys- 
tem, which can generate all three basic financial 
statements, though they call the "changes" state- 
ment a "Funds FloW"- statement. It can print the 
financial statement either in a "Standard Style, " ; or 
on a comparative or budget basis. Their trial-bal- 
ance worksheet is particularly useful. A trial bal- 
ance is most often used by an accountant or 
bookkeeper to prepare adjusting journal entries. 
Most trial balances are just an account list with the 
ending account balance. Cyma's worksheet ap- 



18 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



proach is much more in line for what this report is 
most often used for. Gym a also provides a "report 
formatter," which provides latitude in howthe var- 
ious reports are presented. 

Additionally, Cyma provides you with the file lay- 
outs for the data files being used by a particular 
application. While they are not the only manufac- 
turer to do this, tt is still uncommon enough to 
deserve mention. Having this information is useful 
if you are a programmer. It allows you to write your 
own special purpose reports to pul| information 
from the system's files. If you are not a program- 
mer, a stand-alone report generator will accom- 
plish the same thing. ../.... :. 

Ail individual applications are fairly simple to set 
up and use, : and all provide adequate capacities, 
even on floppy disk-based systems. Each of the 
systems can be used as a stand-alone or integrated 
with other modules. The manuals are ail well laid 
out, attractive, and understandable. 

The individual software packages ail have their 
share of conveniences and idiosyncrasies. Slightly 
offsetting all the genera! ledger's nice features is 
Gyma's method of identifying journals. These jour- 
nals are simply identified with a single letter, which 
you assign to a particular journal. This approach 
does not make a great deal of sense. A two-letter 
journal identifier would have permitted you to, use 
CR for cash receipts, GJ for general journals,. and 
soon. 

Cyma's password system is deficient at best The 
use of a three letter "password" provides a means 
of. identifying a particular set of books. It does not 
exist to restrict access to information contained in 
the system. 

Similar inconsistencies are to be found in the 
other CYMA modules. The accounts receivable has 
some nice features such as the ability to print pay- 
ment books if desired, and it will let you put year- 
to-date finance charges on a statement if you wish. 
At the same time, many reports omit the customer's 
name and just show the customer number. 

Payroll prints such reports as a payroll work- 
sheet by employee, a payroll analysis report by G/L 
account, and a payroll verification report. These 
are all extremely useful, and are seldom found in 
micro-based payroll systems. But their usefulness 
is severely diminished, by the fact that only hourly 
employees are included. 

It's very frustrating to come across what would 
essentially be an outstanding piece of software 



were it not marred by these annoying little flaws. 
It's a bit like finding the best car in the world, only 
to discover.that the carpet is loose and there are 
chips in the paint job. 

The Cyma series is basically well thought out and 
executed. It is easy to set up and operate, and does 
not only what it has to, but a little more. But the 
system needs polishing. 

Requirements: CP/M-80, MP/M, or MS-DOS, 64K 
RAM; two floppy disk drives, printer . 
Cyma Software, prices set by individual dealers 

GENERAL LEDGER 

Written in BASIC, this general ledger is intended 
for Radio Shack Model II and 12 computers. Usable 
as a stand-alone package, it also interfaces with 
payroll and accounts receivable modules, offered 
separately. 

It will fit many small and medium-sized busi- 
nesses very well, but will probably not suit an ac- 
countant who needs ; a package for use with a 
number of clients, nor anyone who wants to main^ 
tain departmentalized profit centers. 

Set-up is easy, largely because the program cre- 
ates only fixed reports; there is no need to define 
your own. Its user's manual is above average, over- 
all. It takes you through setting up a general ledger 
for a mythical XYZ Company, then tells how to in- 
sert your own company and accounts. It lacks an 
index, but this is offset by a detailed table of con- 
tents and by the program's ease of use. 

The program will run on a one-disk system, al- 
lowing up to 504 accounts with four-digit account 
numbers. Each session is assigned a number by 
the computer, and each transaction entered is as- 
signed a document number for the audit trail. You 
may have up to 3,072 documents per month with 
up to 50 entries per document; however, there can 
be no more than 11,420 entries per month, : 

One of the program's best features is its easy 
data entry and editing. To enter an account, for 
example, all you have to do is type in the account 
number, description, account type, category, and, 
at the beginning of your fiscal year, the items car- 
ried over from the previous year. If you forget an 
account type when prompted for. that entry, you 
just have to hit Enter for a list of types. . 

When you have entered all of the accounts, 
pressing a single key allows you to print a copy for 
review. Any changes you need are simple to make, 
and you may delete an account entirely. This is a 



Accounting 



21 



Each package is entirely menu-driven, and on a 
first run-through of the documentation you are 
iikely to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of 
the different screens. Luckily, you don't normally 
-run into every screen, and the use of multiple 
screens tends to enhance the use of these pack- 
ages, rather than slow you down. 

The documentation divides the screens into two 
categories. Some are used to run an application, 
others administrative (ADM) screens. The ADM 
screens allow you to enter company information, 
configure the software for different printers, and 
set up passwords and user-access rights. While the 
Hardisk Accounting Series uses only a single level 
of passwords, an individual can be permitted ac- 
cess or barred from a particular application or ad- 
ministrative function. - . ; 

The manuals for the series as a whole are very 
well organized and attractively presented. They 
present information in the order it is needed, con- 
tain a full range of sample reports, and have a good 
index, so that you can refer to specific operations 
once you have become familiar with the software. 

The G/L is very well done. It provides for depart- 
mental and/or profit-center reporting with up to 99 
departments and 999 cost centers. The reports are 
attractive and comprehensive and include compar- 
ative financial statements. Also permitted are 
"cross accounts," which permit you to group unre- 
lated accounts for financial statements. The G/L 
can handle over 2,000 accounts and will permit you 
to retain transaction detail for an entire year; many 
other G/L packages erase this detail at month end 
closing. The reports allow a particularly wide vari- 
ety in choosing account ranges to be printed, time 
periods, and comparison figures. You can print re- 
ports on the basis of transaction detail or summary. 

The A/R can function as a stand-alone package 
or be integrated with the general ledger and/or in- 
ventory and point-of-sale modules. It will handle 
both open-item and balance-forward customers. N 
R will accept commissions from the point-of-sale 
module and pass these commissions onto the pay- 
roll module. It can handle over 3,000 customers 
and offers a wide variety of attractive and useful 
reports. The package features flexible account 
aging and can print aging reports on a summary or 
detailed basis. The system lets you set up each cus- 
tomer with up to three sales tax rates. A salesper- 
son can be assigned to a customer and can be 
overridden at the time an invoice is entered. A 



transaction can be assigned to a G/L profit center if 
this feature is being used. 

The A/P system has a large capacity, it can han- 
dle over 3,000 vendor accounts efficiently. It ac- 
cepts the entry of handwritten checks and will 
allow an individual vendor transaction to be dis- 
tributed into 16 different G/L accounts. The soft- 
ware permits vendor codes of up to seven 
alphanumeric characters, allowing you to use ven- 
dor IDs that make sense— JOESBAR, rather than 
173 or A49. A/P provides a particularly good variety 
of cash requirement reports; this is important, as 
cash management is the primary reason for using 
an accounts payable system. This system, like oth- 
ers, provides a wide variety of reports, few of wh ich 
will ever be needed. "■■ ' ■ 

The payroll can handle effectively over 250 em- 
ployees. It supports eight different pay periods at 
the same time and allows tip reporting for restau- 
rant employees. It provides useful Help screens, 
which are accessed by pressing the "?" key. The 
software permits user definable departments and 
job descriptions. The system files up to two sepa- 
rate departments and pay rates for each employee. 
The P/R system can handle multistate payrolls, only 
one state per employee at a time. A tax-table up- 
date service is available for $150 per year. Expense 
payments are not handled well. Many systems let 
you handle expense reimbursements as nontax- 
able income; this system lumps these payments 
into gross wages and computes withholding on 
them. The employee must then file an additional 
form on his or her personal tax return to deduct 
these payments from taxable income. An additional 
flaw is that ail data entry is limited to tenths of an 
hour; many companies use 15-minute increments. 

Despite a few defects, the Great Plains packages 
are very good. This is one of the few software series 
that seems usable by both small and medium-sized 
businesses, and by both experienced and inexperi- 
enced users. Put this one at the top of your list to 
look at. 

Requirements: Apple III or IBM PC, 128K RAM, 
drive (5 Meg minimum), floppy disk, 132-column 
printer capability in compressed mode. 
Great Plains Software, General Ledger $595; Ac- 
counts Receivable $595; Accounts Payable $595; 
Inventory $595; Payroll $595 

INFOTORY 

Infotory is a small-business inventory manage- 



22 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ment program for the Apple il and HI that supports 
both floppy and hard disks. 

Using a simple menu-driven format, you can add 
new items, edit existing entries, delete items, request 
a screen inquiry for a particular part number, and 
print an inventory report and price list Receipts 
and issues are handled by the '.'receivings-and- 
sales" entry modes, and items on order are tracked 
through an "on-order P/O" entry function. A trans- 
action report is automatically printed for these 
three items, thus providing a complete audit trail. ■ 

The most important function of any inventory 
program is the report generator. Infotory prints 
three standard reports: inventory report, price list, 
ana 1 sales-and-cost analysis. As well as indicating 
quantities on hand and on order, reorder levels, 
and average costs, it provides vendor information, 
selling price, period sales, cost, and gross-profit 
information for items sold during a specific period.. 

The most powerful feature of Infotory is its "AN- 
YREPORT" function. With it, you may create any 
number of reports by choosing from 18 different 
elements including part number, description, 
quantities, costs, percent profits, percent margin, 
sales, etc. You may also specify up to ten condi- 
tions using <, >, =, or a specified value. (For ex- 
ample, report all items with a period sales of 
greater than $50.) One flaw in this feature is it only 
supports 80-column printouts. With so many print- 
ers having compressed-print capability, it would be 
nice to have 132 columns or more available. Be- 
cause each record must be analyzed before print- 
ing to see if it meets the specified criteria, it is a 
pretty slow process. . 

While the 1,400-item limit on the Apple il may 
seem small, multiple-data disks can be used to in- 
crease total capacity. One would have to assign 
part-number groups to each disk and manually 
consolidate totals. The Apple ill. handles 26,600 
items using the Profile hard disk, and the IBM XT 
with its 1 MB disk will handle 50,000 items. 

The program is supplied on a single-copy, pro- 
tected disk and includes a sample data disk. A 
high-quality manual complete with samples of var- 
ious ANYREPORT configurations, plus many 
screen illustrations, is provided. 
Requirements: Apple II with. Applesoft BASIC, II + 
or lie, 48K RAM, two disk drives; Apple ill, 128K 
RAM, Profile hard disk; MSDOS 128K RAM, disk 
drive 
S.S.R Corp., Apple li $295; Apple III and IBM $575 



INVENTORY MANAGER 

Designed for retailers, distributors, or any busi- 
ness involved in the saie of merchandise, Inventory 
Manager is an easy-to-use inventory control system 
that will handle up to 2,700 items on a dual drive 
Apple II (1,200 for a single drive) and. up to 10,000 
items on the IBM PC using two double-density, 
double-sided disks. : 

Menu driven and easy to use, this program can 
keep track of current inventory levels, product 
name, category (up to 13 groups), selling price, 
unit costs, product code, vendor code, stock on 
order, reorder point and quantity, items on : order, 
and percentage markup. . 

Reports are very important in any inventory sys- 
tem and Inventory Manager provides plenty of 
them. Along with a standard list showing stock 
numbers, description, prices, vendor, quantity, and 
so on, you can select a vendor listing including 
vendor codes {up to 99), stock-on-order report, a 
listing by product code group, and an alphabetical 
listing by item description. As well as a suggested 
reorder list, purchase orders for each vendor may 
be automatically printed with the option to place 
orders with a selected vendor rather than the as- 
signed vendor. This is helpful for purchases being 
made through a' distributor rather than directly 
from the manufacturer. A couple of unique reports 
include a listing of -stock sold sorted by gross 
profit, and a list showing the percentage of gross 
profit in each of the 13 user-defined inventory cate- 
gories. ■■■■ 

included as a separate option is a program called 
IM-Retail, which is a restricted-usage version of the 
main program. By letting your employees use this 
one, you can protect sensitive information. Access 
is allowed only to the update, vendor codes, and 
category search options. 

Inventory Manager comes with an attractive 72- 
page manual and is supplied on a single unpro- 
tected disk. Because it is unprotected, using one of 
the high-speed DOS utility programs will greatly 
enhance its operation. = 

Requirements: Apple li with Applesoft BASIC in 
ROM, l! + , or lie, 48K RAM; IBM PC, 64K RAM; disk 
drive 
Sato ri Software, $150 . , 

INVOICE FACTORY 

Invoice Factory is an accounts receivable pack- 
age targeted for companies that ship products, 



Accounting 



23 



rather than service businesses or cash and carry 
retailers. Three years ago this program would have 
been considered exceptional/Given today's soft- 
ware, the program begins to show its age. This 
shows up less in features than in performance and 
inconveniences of setup and use. 

Invoice Factory has attractive data input screens, 
and can use Microiab's Data Factory to produce 
extra reports. It can store product weights and UPS 
rates to calculate shipping charges automatically. 
It can generate "Auto Invoices" when there are 
many invoices with the same products for different 
customers; "Standard Invoices," which accesses a 
file of up to 100 products; or "Free-Form Invoices," 
which are used to invoice products not in the data 
files. It even has a field for comments about a cus- 
tomer, which do not print on the invoice or state- 
ments. Microlab even supplies a starter supply of 
invoices and statement forms. Invoice Factory also 
record receipts and offers more than adequate re- 
ports: accounts receivable by invoice number or 
due date, aged receivables, quarterly and yearly 
sales analysis, lists of product and shipping vari- 
ables, mailing labels, user-definable sales analysis 
report; cash analysis reports; royalty and commis- 
sion reports; and a salesman production report. 

With ail this going for it, Invoice Factory has 
some very poor features. These are not really de- 
sign flaws, but appear to be the result of the soft- 
ware's age. It has no provision for more than the 
Apple's standard 40-column screen and makes no 
use of a second disk drive during the setup pro- 
cess. As running the system requires two drives, 
the extensive disk swapping seems an unnecessary 
nuisance. Additionally, the product file, which 
stores descriptions and prices, is limited to 100 
products and a single disk. The master account file 
can store 275 customers per disk and can.be 
spread across two disks, for a maximum of 550 
customers. 

This program is also annoying to setup, it has 
significant limits on capacity and apparently can- 
not be configured to make use of a hard disk. Given 
the range of software available for the Apple, the 
price seems a bit high. If you can find the Invoice 
Factory for a substantial discount and can live with 
the limitations, it might be worth taking a look. If 
you anticipate that your business will grow sub- 
stantially, you very well could outgrow the soft- 
ware. 

Microlab supplies a backup set of disks with the 



copy-protected package and will replace a defec- 
tive, blown, or damaged disk within the first 30 
days for a fee of $10. They also offer a one-year 
warranty for $50. Most people will probably spend 
the money on a bit copier and make their own extra 
backup copies. 

Requirements: Apple II, 48K RAM, Applesoft 
BASIC in ROM, two disk drives, printer 
Microlab, $200 

JEWEL 

The Jewel series consists of 15 application and 
vertical market applications, most of which can 
either be used as a stand-alone application system 
or integrated into a single accounting system in 
which each accounting function shares its data 
with the others. The entire series consists of sev- 
eral general ledgers (standard G/L, complete G/L, 
and client write-up), accounts receivable, accounts 
payable, inventory, order entry, purchase order, 
fixed assets, job costing, manufacturing, point of 
sale, client/time billing, and a medical office man- 
ager. Evaluated for this review were the complete 
general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts pay- 
able, and order entry.' 

The Jewel Accounting packages are built around 
a database. This allows a great deal of flexibility in 
report formatting and adds the ability to do exten- 
sive searches on accounts and transactions, in the 
general ledger chart of accounts, there are 25 dif- 
ferent codes used to designate account type. 
These different account types are used not only to 
indicate where in the. chart the account appears, 
but aJso to set up the formats of the financial state- 
ments. On top of that are an additional seven print- 
column codes, used to position where the balance 
of an account appears on the financial statements. 
Then there is a special procedure for formatting 
the inventory account balances for the "cost of 
goods" section of the income statement. 

Unfortunately, setting up your books on the 
Jewel system can be an extremely complex and 
time-consuming process. It requires that you give a 
fair amount of thought to the structure of your ac- 
counting system before you get anywhere near 
your computer. It also requires that you have a 
good understanding of accounting. 

Entering your chart is equally complex. There are 
numerous screens that may be used, depending on 
which features — budgeting, statement of changes 
report, schedule to financial statements, etc.— 



24 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



you've decided to use. The general-ledger docu- 
mentation contains 83 pages on the setup and 
maintenance process alone. Other packages are 
somewhat easier to set up. . : : ,; : 

AN the time and effort spent in planning and 
setup is weil worth it if you need some of the ad- 
vanced features that Jewel offers. The general 
ledger allows multi-company operation, extensive 
budget comparison and reporting, comparative fi- 
nancial statements, and various supplementary 
schedules to the financial statements. With enough 
disk storage, you may have up to 99 divisions, each 
with up to 99 departments. You can produce a 
statement of changes in financial position. This is 
the third basic financial statement — the balance 
sheet and income statement are the other two— 
and is not often found in micro-based accounting 
packages. Jewel even allows you to set up the sys- 
tem to make an automatic journal entry to adjust 
the inventory account based on a gross profit per- 
centage and to make automatic accruals for esti- 
mated income taxes. 

The other packages reviewed offered similar fea- 
tures. In addition to more or less standard features, 
accounts receivable allows unlimited descriptions 
on invoices, four user-definable tax codes, the abil- 
ity to generate estimated or pro forma invoices, 
suggested purchase levels and reorder points, and 
many useful reports. Accounts payable also had 
many unusual conveniences. Some impressive 
ones are its ability to do. recurring invoices; its 
user-defined aging; the production of •"white 
paper" schedules when detail overflows a check 
stub; its ability to retain a history of paid invoices; 
and the ability to produce a summary report for 
Form 1099, used to report payment of dividends 
and non-employee compensation; : 

Using any of the packages is much less arduous 
than setting them up. The menu-driven process 
consists of entering the transactions, editing or de- 
leting incorrect transactions, then "recording" the 
session. This allows you to correct an incorrect 
entry before it actually is entered into the file. After 
the session is recorded, an incorrect entry can be 
corrected only by an adjusting journal entry. This 
allows the maintenance of an adequate audit trail. 

There are two flaws in the way Jewel handles 
transaction entry. In the general ledger, each entry 
screen is used to enter one journal line transaction. 
This is common in database-oriented accounting 
systems but does ailow you to put in an unbal- 



anced entry. Jewel warns you if the current session 
is out of balance, but does not prohibit posting an 
unbalanced entry. 

The second is the way Jewel transfers informa- 
tion between accounting modules. It makes up a 
summary journal entry from one system, which is 
entered and posted into another. Most database- 
oriented accounting systems provide a direct 
transfer of information entered in one application 
to other applications which the transaction would 
effect. Jewel does this between some systems; if 
both A/R or A/P and inventory are installed, one will 
update the other. To update the G/L, you must 
choose a menu option "Post from other Jewel Sys- 
tem screens." This is fine is you have several ac- 
counting modules that you do not want fully 
integrated, but it is a needless step if you desire. a 
completely integrated accounting system. 

After the transactions have ^been entered; and 
"recorded/' they are posted and various reports 
and financial statements are printed. This is en- 
tirely menu-driven and, again, is a simple process. 
Each of the applications reviewed offers a multi- 
tude of useful reports, though your circumstances 
will probably not require all of the reports pro- 
vided. The general layout and appearance of the 
reports are attractive and, because many of the re- 
ports are the result -of your setup, procedures, 
should be germane to your business requirements. 

The Jewel Accounting Series is not for everyone. 
Many of us have no need for most of its advanced 
features and complex setup. These packages seem 
more appropriate for a company grossing over 15 
million per year or a smaller company with exten- 
sive reporting needs. It seems likely, however, that 
most companies that would find Jewel attractive 
would be using larger computers than micros. :. .: 
Requirements: IBM PC, 192K RAM, two disk 
drives, 80 column printer - : 
Heritage Computing, G/L $975; A/R $425; A/P $525; 
Order Entry $425 ■-■;.;■..■:■■■ 

MBA ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE 

The MBA Accounting Series is a set of the six 
basic accounting applications (G/L, A/R, A/P, pay- 
roll, inventory with invoicing, and purchase order), 
two vertical market applications: (fixed asset ac- 
counting and professional time accounting), and 
several very interesting options. 

The six basic accounting applications can be 
used asstand-alones, or can be interfaced with the 



Accounting 



25 



genera! ledger or each other. Unlike some systems, 
the software does not share a common database. 
Results of the operations in one application can be 
automatically transferred to another by means of a 
summary journal entry, which is transferred to the 
G/L journal file. While not as elegant as the shared 
database approach, it gets the job done. 
i. i MBA's various applications couid be considered 
mid-level, both in the features they offer and in the 
relatively complex setup of parts of the system. 
They offer ail of the basic accounting functions ex- 
pected in their applications, it is the additional fea- 
tures the system as a whole offers that lifts this 
software out of the "basic" level. These features 
include password protection, on-line account in- 
quiry, the ability to maintain year-to-date detail if 
disk space is available, a financial report generator, 
and a toll-free support line. '■■ \ .':■:.■ 

. rThe manual is well written and understandable, 
with an excellent table of contents and an index — 
rather a pleasant surprise. It also contains a very 
good tutorial in, basic accounting, which non-ac- 
countants will^welcome. Howeyerj the manual was 
written solely for the CP/M version .of these pro- 
grams. Changes for the IBM PC version are noted 
in inserts scattered through the book. This is need- 
lessly confusing, as sections of the book dealing 
with the operating system could easily have been 

rewritten. ■ -v ■ ' ■v'- : " 

The G/L has two check entry screens; one is used 

if you are using the A/P (accrual basis taxpayer), 

the second if -you keep your books on a cash basis. 

[ You can modify or correct a journal entry as long 

as you have not yet posted it ■■■'v..:.-.--—- ■:;;; 

A financial report generator makes creation of 
financial statements very flexible. This report gen- 
erator also allows you to do comparative and de- 
partmental statements. While not extremely simple 
to use, it is substantially less complex than the re- 
port generators in many competing products. ■■■; : -\: i 
The structure of the chart of accounts is also very 
flexible,. allowing account numbers of up to ten 
digits in length. One feature is very seldom seen in 
micro-based G/Ls: memo' accounts — accounts in 
the genera! ledger that can store' non-financial in- 
formation. Memo accounts are extremely useful 
when you wish to record billings received from 
your two biggest customers, or the number of cig- 
arettes you smoke while doing your books each 
month. Information stored in memo accounts will 
not be added into financial figures and will be avail- 



able in your general ledger. Memo accounts are 
much more common in mainframe-and mini-based 
genera! ledger software. It is/nice to see a micro- 
based package that includes them. } ..'■ '■ 

Other programs in the series are similarly well 
thought out and executed. MBA's strongest fea- 
tures, however, are in the form of optional mod- 
ules, One is a "multicpmpany" feature that allows 
you to maintain several sets of books on the same 
. data disk; A multi-user option provides file and rec- 
ord lockout. And an interface system called DWP^- 
available separately for G/L, A/R, A/P, Payroll, and 
inventory— transfers information from the various 
applications into d-BASE // compatible files; From 
there, data can be manipulated with d-BASE II, or 
using d-BASE II, converted into ASCII text files for 
use with a. word processor or your own programs; 
MBA also offers an- interface that allows you to 
transfer G/L information to Super Calc spreadsheet 
models. ••■<::■■■■ '■■■ i; \ : 

These two options (DWP and Super Calc inter- 
faces) can give you an enormous amount of power 
in customizing a packaged application, if you need 
reports unavailable with the financial report gener- 
ator,^ just dump the information into SuperCalc or 
dBASE.ln fact, you might find this procedure eas- 
ier then using MBA's report generator. The DWP 
interface also allows you to transfer information 
into MBA's application. This makes it a powerful 
tod! indeed. ' ->■• ■■_.■■■'■'- : .-"- 

The MBA Accounting Series is unusual in that it 
can be used at various levels. Without the options, 
it is a fairly good basic and mid-range system. With 
the optional modules, it is easily customized. While 
the software ^has some weak points, it also has 
some very nice features. It might be worth a look. 
Requirements: CP/M-80, MP/M-II, or TurboDOS, 
64KRAM; IBM PC, 128K RAM, MS-DOS i.X or 2.X; 
two disk drives, printer : "-r '■ ■■ 

Micro Business Applications, General ledger $595; 
Accounts receivable $595; Accounts payable $595; 
Payroll $595; Inventory $595; Purchase order $395; 
Fixed asset accounting $395; Professional time ac- 
counting $495;G/L SuperCalc interface $100; Mul- 
ticompany option $250; Multiuser option $595; 
DWP interfaces $100 each •= 

MICROTAX 

While there are many programs that will prepare 
Federal returns, there are far fewer truly profes- 
sional tax preparation systems available. One of 



26 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



the more comprehensive of these is Micro tax. Mi- 
crocomputer Taxsystems has been in existence 
since 1979, which makes it one of the "old-timers" 
in the microcomputer software business. They 
offer a variety of different packages, from their per- 
sonal federal package (Level I) through an expa- 
triate system. Evaluated for this review were their 
professional Federal package (Level If) and New 
York State/City package, both for preparing 1983 
returns. Also available are other states and a cor- 
porate/partnership return package. •■'..'■■.■ 
\ Installing Microtax is simple. While it is possible 
to run from floppies, the programs are large, nu- 
merous, and require frequent disk access. Running 
from a hard disk makes using this system a whole 
lot easier, and much faster. Installation consists of 
copying the disks up to the hard disk and answer- 
ing a few questions on terminal and printer charac- 
teristics... ■•.-•'.'■' : ---.' : - -■ = :.. ■■'.■■ : -' 

Once this short installation has been accom- 
plished, you are ready to use the system. The entire 
Microtax system is menu-driven. The various forms 
and schedules for a client can be selected before 
you start data entry, or can be selected on the fly by 
selecting the form from the one you are working 
with. For example, entering an "S" (for select) to 
the prompt "Excess Itemized Deductions (A)" on 
Form 1040 .will select Schedule A. When you are 
finished with 1040, the system will automatically 
present you with Schedule A to be filled in. The 
data entry routines pretty much follow the forms, 
and allow a wide variety of overrides for informa- 
tion. . 

Data from one form that is used in another is 
automatically transferred, information from the 
Federal return is likewise transferred to a state re- 
turn. ■-:■■:■ 

. All Microtax packages prepare a wide variety of 
the most often used forms. The firm is continuously 
adding new forms; any list would be obsolete by 
the time you read it 

.Micro tax has several other nice features that 
make it suitable for use in a professional preparer's 
office. It can prepare an interview questionnaire 
similar to a service bureau's input sheets, tax ques- 
tionnaire booklets to mail out to your clients (an 
extra-cost option), and transmittal letters for your 
returns very similar to the ones prepared by the 
service bureaus. ■.:.■■■■■■.■ 

Microtax is nice, but. far from perfect. Even 
though it is written in compiled BASIC, the very 



size of the system makes it run slowly. The manual 
could also use some improvement. It is extremely 
disorganized, with most of the important informa- 
tion contained in the appendixes. 

Alleviating this somewhat is Microtax's toll-free 
hotline (when you can get through) and. Tax-Net. 
Microtax provides Tax-Net on The Source to pro- 
vide you with tips, additional /information, and 
downloadable patches to the various packages 
they offer. It is ponderous to read through all the 
memos to find out which ones have importance to 
your particular operations, and instructions for 
downloading are given only for ASCOM's instruc- 
tions for one of. the freeware communications pro- 
grams would probably be a good idea. : . ' v 

Microtax is a professional-level tax preparation 
package. It is not inexpensive, but if you prepare a 
significant number of returns each year,. the re- 
duced cost of the updates can make it extremely 
cost effective. Using it can save you time, money 
and aggravation. ■■': : .- 

Requirements: CP/M-80, 64K RAM, IBM PC, 128K 
RAM, two disk drives, printer 
Microtax, Level II (Professional Federal) $1 S Q00; NY 
State/ City $750 



MULTI-TOOL FINANCIAL STATEMENT 

Microsoft's Multi-Tool series offers template gen- 
erators meant to be used with the company's Mul- 
tiplan spreadsheet. Each creates a different 
template for the generation and analysis of finan- 
cial statements. ' 

Financial statements are a method of presenting 
information from a company's main set of books, 
the genera! ledger, in a more-or-less standard for- 
mat. As defined by GAAP, the Generally Accepted 
Accounting Principles set forth by the American 
Institute of Certified Public Accountants, a set of 
financial statements consists of three reports, a 
balance sheet, an income statement, and a state- 
ment of changes in financial position. Each tells 
something different about a business. The balance 
sheet lists assets, liabilities, and owner's equity- 
owner's investment in thecompany and the firm's 
retained earnings, profits and josses not distrib- 
uted to the stockho I ders. 

The income statement is a list of the company's 
income and expenses, it covers a period from the 
start of a company's fiscal year to the date of the 
report. The income statement gives information on 



Accounting 



27 



the financial results of a company's operations, 
sort of a "How are we doing so far this year?" 

The third standard statement, changes in- finan- 
cial - : position, compares balance sheets for two 
years, and details the reasons for the changes in 
account balances. For example, liabilities may 
have been increased by a long-term bank loan. The 
"changes" statement might explain that this loan 
was used to finance inventory. 
: The Multi-Tool Financial Statement can be used 
to generate a Multiplan template which contains a 
balance sheet and an income statement. The third 
statement, changes in financial position, is not 
generated, but few businesses use this statement 
in any case; .its omission is not a major defect in 
the software. : . ■ . ' V 

The financial statements are developed through 
a question and answer routine. The software asks- 
you which accounts are used ineach statement- 
there are separate programs for. each statement-— 
and the dollar amount of each account. After you 
have finished, the software creates a SYLK — sym- 
bolic link — file containing your statement. This 
must- be loaded into Multiplan to be used or 
printed. "... 

■For the simple generation of financial statements 
this is a tediousprocess. Not only is it simpler just 
to use Multiplan directly to set up your statements, 
but Multi-Tool Financial Statement has certain ac- 
counts that will appear, in the generated state- 
ments, even if your particular business does not 
use them. An additional rigidity is reflected 'in the 
equity section of the balance sheet. If your busi- 
ness is a corporation, there is no problem, but if it 
is run as a partnership, proprietorship, or a small 
business corporation under Subchapter S, you will 
need, to do some editing on the generated state- 
ments. ; . '.. ■■.:": "■'■ ■ : i :■':' 

■\ Multi-tool Financial Statement's strength, how- 
ever, is riot in the generation of the statements. As 
it generates the financial statements, it also pre- 
pares worksheets containing various. ratio analy- 
ses. These analyses, and how they are used, are 
detailed in the manual. There are four basic types. 
The first, liquidity ratios, indicate a company's abil- 
ity to meet its short-term debt. The second cate- 
gory, leverage ratios, are indicators of both how 
the company is financed and of its ability to meet 
both short and long-term obligation.' Efficiency ra- 
tios, the third class, indicate how efficiently a com- 
pany is using its assets. The fourth group includes 



various profitability ratios that indicate net return 
from operations. . 

If you have knowledge of ratio analysis, or are 
willing to spend a few hours learning how this type 
of analysis can help you run your business more 
effectively, then Multi-Tool Financial Statement 
might be a good investment, if your only interest is 
to produce a set of financial statements, especially 
if you need standard statements, forget it. You will 
find it easier to just use Multiplan, Visicalc, 1-2-3, 
or an electric typewriter.. ■■■ 
Requirements: Apple, CP/M, or IBM PC; Multiplan 
Microsoft Corp., $100 .' .. 

PAYROLL MANAGER 

Payroll is one of those office functions that fall 
into the category of necessary nuisances. The nec- 
essary part is obvious— everyone (including you) 
Wants to get paid! The nuisance comes in because 
the payroll function is so labor intensive that it is a 
pain to do manually, a pain to have it done by a 
service bureau, and a pain to dp it on computer. It 
is, however, much less painful to process payroll 
with a service bureau or on your own computer. 

Depending upon your requirements, Microlab's 
Payroll Manager might be able to take some of the 
sting out of the payroll process. Designed for the 
Apple II or lie computer, it can handle up to 200 
employees, calculating gross pay on hourly and 
salaried employees. The system can track sick 
time, vacation time, personal time, and holidays, 
and can calculate up to 11 separate deductions of 
which five are user definable. 

Payroll is a fairly standardized application. Al- 
most all payroll packages have certain baste func- 
tions. You, enter employees' time; calculate the 
gross and net pay; print checks, payroll registers, 
and earnings reports; and at the end of each quar- 
ter print reports for various government agencies. 
At the end of the year, you print W-2 forms. Any 
bare-bones system should do this. 

The differences between packages are the var- 
ious bells and whistles. Payroll Manager has a few 
nice ones including some additional reports you 
may find useful. It can print time card labels, mail- 
ing labels, an employee roster, and an employee 
seniority roster. Additionally, Payroll Manager can 
produce two useful blank forms, a blank employee 
record form, which you fill in when your hire some- 
one, and a Payroll Input Worksheet to record hours 
before you input them into the computer. These are 



28 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



very nice features. Microlab's package also permits 
very flexible calculation of user-defined deduc- 
• tions. 

While Payroll Manager has some very nice fea- 
tures, it also has some serious faults. It requires at 
least three disk drives or a hard disk to run. If you 
already have a hard disk this may not be a problem, 
but the package runs much slower in the three- 
floppy-disk configuration. Yet Payroll Manager is 
slow even on a hard disk. If you have over 30 or 40 
employees, be prepared to spend a lot of time in 
front of your screen. This is compounded by the 
need to enter hourly employees, salaried employ- 
ees, and adjustments in separate input processes. 
This is much more annoying than entering employ- 
ees in your own order and requires additional plan- 
ning to minimize the annoyance. 

Payroll Manager has one other limitation that 
may be a problem. Each employee is limited to a 
single department number. If you have employees 
whose time should be billed to several departments 
or jobs, you are going to be disappointed. 

Microlab has produced a nice low-end payroll 
package with some useful frills. If you have a bare- 
bones type of payroll with 30 or 40 employees, Pay- 
roll Manager may be just what you are looking for. 
If you have many employees or have more elabo- 
rate labor or job costing requirements, you will 
probably be better off with something else. 
Requirements: Apple II or lie, three floppy-disk 
drives or hard disk, 80 column printer 
Microlab, $300 , -. . . . 



PEACHTREE SERIES 40 G/L, A/P, A/R 

These three packages form the heart of Peach- 
tree's Series 40 accounting system; while they 
share many similar qualities, one of the strongest 
is their auditability. Each can be told not to allow a 
user to change an. entry once it's in the system. 
This means the only way to. change incorrect data 
is a reverse entry — but that forces you to record 
every transaction all the way through, so each item 
carries a built-in audit trail. Your accountant will 
love the system.' ... 

Each program is menu driven, so they're easy to 
move around in and work with. The Accounts Re- 
ceivable and Payable systems interface with the 
General Ledger, to send their summary data auto- 
matically to its files: All the programs are fully error 
trapped; you can't even enter an invalid date. Each 



package has a thorough manual, with a brief tuto- 
rial section at the end. . ' : 

In the Receivable and Payable programs, cus- 
tomer information (name, address and so on) com- 
petes with your transaction data for disk space. 
Each data disk has about 900 spots; if you have 300 
customers, you're only allowed to record about 600 
transactions. The same is true for the General 
Ledger, although just about any chart of accounts 
and its associated information won't come close to 
filling the available space. 

One weak spot is that your aging reports (for 
accounts receivable) , and payable summaries 
(for accounts payable) can't span multiple disks. 
Each printout gives you one disk's worth of infor 
mation. If you have current data stored on. more 
than one disk, you have to add up their totals 
manually. 

Peachtree's Accounts Receivable system creates 
invoices for you, automatically does line extent 
sions, and will even add sales tax to your bills. If 
you do invoices by hand, you can enter just their 
data into the system. You. can create automatic- 
billing accounts for those customers who have the 
same charge every month. " 

The system is seemingly designed for mail-order 
businesses, as there are numerous fields to skip 
through or fill in that ..concern themselves with 
shipping. There's also only a single sales code to 
which you can distribute your sales data; materials, 
labor, outside services, and so on all must be 
lumped together. 

You can apply customer payments to specific in- 
voices or. use a balance-forward method. The sys- 
tem produces detailed summary reports and even 
tracks the credit limit you set for each customer. '■:... 

Along with its invoices, Peachtree's Accounts 
Receivable package creates month-end statements 
for your customers. If you wish, you can print a 
message on each statement. Sadly, the system can- 
not add a finance charge to those accounts that 
promised your check was in the mail (although it 
somehow never arrived). 

As the Receivable package prints, invoices and 
statements and tracks what your customers owe 
you, the Payable system has the unfortunate job to 
do much the same for what you owe. The paper- 
work the Accounts Payable system provides is just 
as detailed and thorough as the one its sister pack- 
age produces. There's a helpful cash^requirement 
report that lets you know how much you need in 



Accounting, 



29 



the bank to pay all of your bills, or just a group of 
bills you select, or to pay all bills that are due by a 
certain date. 

Accounts Payable, of course, also prints checks 
to your vendors for the materials you purchase. 
The system automatically numbers each check for 
you, takes advantage of discounts, and pays up to 
12 invoices. on each check. You can create auto- 
entry, accounts for those payments that are the 
same every month (like rent) and the system will 
automatically post the data. You can distribute the 
information from each vendor bill to eight account- 
ing codes (material, labor, permits, etc.) for. your 
regular vendor accounts, and can make two distri- 
butions for auto-entry accounts. 

Peachtree's Accounts Payable makes it difficult 
for you if you write a check by hand to pay an 
invoice that's already been recorded into the sys- 
tem. You must either reenter the voucher (the bill 
from your vendor) marked PAID, or let the system 
create and print a check for it, and then void the 
check. - 

At the center of any accounting. system is your 
general ledger: it summarizes everything. If you 
have only, the -General Ledger package, you can 
manually enter the summary data from your cur- 
rent receivable and/or payable systems. If .you have 
Peachtree's Accounts Payable and/or Receivable 
programs, the General Ledger system communi- 
cates with them to automatically take their sum- 
mary data and post it to the proper General-Ledger 
accounts. .. 

■ ..'The General Ledger program creates a balance 
sheet and profit-and-loss statement for you, and if 
you wish, it will print last year's figures, too, so you 
can compare them with your current data. It .also 
tracks budget information, so you can see how 
you're doing in relation to it. If you have a recurring 
expense (like depreciation) every month, the Gen- 
eral Ledger program will post it automatically for 
you. ■ .:. ■...' '■■■■■'.:■:■•.■■■■■ 

You can start Peachtree's General Ledger sys- 
tem at any month of the year. It's completely error 
trapped, and checks each entry to make sure it bal- 
ances before it accepts the data into the system. 

Each of Peachtree's accounting programs does 
an outstanding job, with only a minor deficiency or 
two (the worst is the lack of ability to automatically 
add a finance charge). Together, the three systems 
give you a complete accounting package. 
Requirements: CP/M 64K RAM, two disk drives, 



132-compatible printer, requires DOS 3.3 and Mi- 
crosoft software 
Peachtree Software, $400 each module 

PEACHTREE SERIES 8 

Peachtree Software, now a division of MSA, Inb., 
has an interesting history. As Retail Sciences, they 
were one of the first companies to offer accounting 
software for microcomputers. Developed in the late 
1970s for the original Altair, the software packages 
have been adapted for new generations of equip- 
ment. Several years after its founding, the company 
split Into two new firms, Peachtree Software and 
TCS, both of which retained the right to sell the 
software. 

Over the years, both companies improved and 
sold variations of the original packages. About two 
years ago, TCS finally decided to retire the soft- 
ware and brought out an entirely new set of pack- 
ages, their TOTAL Accounting series. Peachtree, 
however, has decided that the software, though 
aged, is not dead yet, and continues to sell their 
Series 8 incarnation. Therein lies the problem. 

When the software was first available, it was a 
remarkable package, with features that had been 
available only in software packages costing ten to 
20 times as much. Unfortunately, the software has 
aged rather than matured. Report formats that 
were acceptable five years ago have been done 
much more compactly and attractively in more re- 
cent packages. Installation and set up are much 
too complex for what the software. offers. The man- 
uals, while better then some, do not reflect five or 
six years' worth of effort and refinement.. V 

Peachtree still comes out well in a comparison of 
features. It does everything expected from its basic 
applications. It has a full complement of reports, 
and is menu-driven throughout. Many people are 
using its reports, after- all, with convenience. 
Peachtree has sold well over the years, and contin- 
ues to do so. 

But the software is substantially what they were 
selling five years ago, and compared to more re- 
cent packages it shows its age. You have to admire 
Peachtree's staying power. But the microcomputer 
software industry is fast. moving, and five years is a 
long time. You can keep a package alive only so 
long by grafting improvements onto it. It's time to 
let this one rest. ■■. - 

Requirements: MS-DOS 1.X or2.X, 128K RAM, two 
disk drives, 132-column.printer 



30 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



Peachtree Software, General ledger $750, Ac- 
counts receivable $750, Accounts payable $750, In- 
ventory $750, Job cost $750, Sales invoicing $750 

PRACTICAL ACCOUNTANT 

Designed with the small business in mind, Prac- 
tical Accountant is a single-entry accounting pro- 
gram that is both simple to use and powerful. From 
managing a single checkbook to running a farm, it 
can be used in any business where a complex dou- 
ble-entry system would be unnecessary, : 

.Structured like many checkbook programs, in- 
come and expense transactions are entered into a 
. cash record with simple on screen entry forms. Ail 
entries are maintained chronologically, and you 
may edit or delete them at any time. Either the cash 
or accrual accounting method is allowed, and you 
may handle accounts payables, receivables, and 
simple payroll. Checks may be printed using two- 
part forms to include a voucher with each item bro- 
ken out ■'■ '■'■= v- '' '■" 

" Perhaps the key element to all accounting pro- 
grams is the way financial information is pre- 
sented. Cash flow is very critical to the operation of 
a small business, so in addition to printing cash 
transaction reports in both a short and extended 
format, three types of cash flow reports are also 
provided. '- . ' ' .' 

The main report, "Categories Cash-Flow," is a 
quarterly statement organized by income and ex- 
pense l categories. Detail amounts and totals are 
printed for each month along with the quarter and 
year-to-date balances. Printed one quarter at a 
time, a single report may coyer up to four quarters. 
A report of subcategories provides more detail and 
a: tax-type report shows amounts assigned to each 
of the 20 user-defined tax types. You may define up 
to 50 different account categories with up to 300 
subcategories of income and expense items. These 
can be further grouped into 20 different tax-type 
categories. . . 

Other features include easy reconciliation of ac- 
counts, split transactions, and a search function 
that allows looking fora specific date or range of 
dates, an income source, or an expense recipient. 

The reference manual is exceptionally well pro- 
duced. Beautifully typeset on. slick paper and spiral 
bound to lay flat, its 213 pages abound with screen' 
illustrations and printouts. The book is divided into 
two parts; the first is a comprehensive tutorial, 
while the second is a complete reference guide. A 



chapter on small business, and farm applications 
contains sample charts of accounts for each, along 
with two methods of using the program to handle 
payroll. A handy keyboard reference card for both 
the Apple N and lie is also included. 

The system will handle a maximum of 634 trans- 
actions per year using two disk drives. You may 
extend this by adding one or two additional drives, 
130 transactions for. each, for a total of 2,800 
checks and/or deposits. Alternatively; : you ' may 
break your transactions up into quarterly or semi- 
annual groups using a separate data disk for each. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + or lle,64K RAM, two 
disk drives, printer ■■■■.-.■■ 

Softlink,$150 ...-.:■■;:■:-:■■.■:■■,■. • ; 



THE PROFIT CENTER 

Given the enormous profits possible in the soft- 
ware business, most computer-industry analysts 
have agreed that it is only a matter of time before 
the "big guys" get into the act. Prentice-Hall is cer- 
tainly one of the big guys. Over 70 years old, they 
are one of the world's largest publishers of com- 
puter books,. texts, and information-services for ac- 
countants and lawyers. 

The Profit Center is Prentice-Hail's first major 
venture into the world of business software. For a 
first step it is both substantial and ambitious. *■ :■■ 
. TPC is a series of 21 applications modules, to be 
released through 1984 and 1985, in the areas of 
accounting, word processing, planning and analy- 
sis, and database management. Most are com- 
pletely integrated with the others through a master 
menu that provides access to the individual appli- 
cations, utilities, and a common database. 

Of the 21 modules announced, 6 are available 
how; Master Menu, General Accounting/Accounts 
Receivable, Accounts Payable, Business Word Pro- 
cessing, and N.E.A.T.— an 'acronym for notes, ex- 
penses, appointments, and time. All have several 
features in common: the use of a master menu to 
access the application, a, common, user interface, 
and shared data. 

Shared data is a method of integration. Older 
programs transported the data from one applica- 
tion to another in a summary file. A more efficient 
technique is to share data in a set of common files. 
TPC uses this method. This avoids duplicating in- 
formation in separate files and -reduces or 
eliminates the need to re-key data that another ap- 



Accounting 



31 



plication has used or generated. The Profit Center 
enjoys both advantages. 

A nice feature of The. Profit Center is its common 
user interface. Once you have learned how one of 
the programs operates, about 80 percent of what 
you know is transferable to others in the series. -.: 

Master Menu, while not unique to TPC, is very 
well done. During setup it can configure the system 
for, almost any combination of disk drives and 
printers; later it serves as a gateway to the individ- 
ual applications. As each application is acquired, it 
must be installed on the menu^a simple task. Dur- 
ing installation, you may inform Master Menu that 
you wish the application to talk to other modules. 
You may well not. For example, a cash basis tax- 
payer may want to separate the accounts payable 
and receivable modules and not have them auto- 
matically posted into /the general ledger. V: 

Master Menu : allows access to DOS functions, 
such as Copy and checking disk space, without 
leaving The Profit Center. This can be extremely 
useful when you want to back up data files without 
wasting time 

It also handles system security. Both user IDs 
and . passwords may be used to control access . to 
any of The Profit Center's functions. A special op- 
tion allows the system master to route a user ID to 
a specific entry screen, bypassing the intermediate 
menus. , . ,' ]■ ■..".. 

Several nice features are common to all the mod- 
ules. Many times, in using a computerized account- 
ing system, you need to add a new G/L account, 
customer, vendor, or whatever. With most soft- 
ware,, if you discover this during data entry, you 
must stop what you're doing, back out to a menu, 
call up a maintenance function, add the account, 
then go back to enter data. TPC lets you do this on 
the fly! Using a limited window facility, if you get an 
^account not found" message, you can add it right 
there and then. TPC's ability to scroll through the 
various accounts and reports is also attractive and 
usef u I. .' ' 

: Alas, these features come with a price. TPC is 
slow. On a floppy-based system, it is agonizingly 
slow. A hard disk helps, but it takes a RAM disk to 
make things really bearable. . : 

There was also, one really impressive, and per- 
haps unique, feature, another package. The Gen- 
eral Accounting system can print both checks and. 
statements, and these are user-formattable. This is 
an easy process and means that you can use any 



available continuous form. Both the stand-alone A/ 
R and A/Palso have this feature, and. it is a good 
one! .■■..'..". .'.■;. ,.':.,: ' ... ; ; ...': 

All things considered, The. Profit Center is easy to 
set up and easy to use. While not perfect, for the 
small business person with tittle computer experi- 
ence, it is one of the better accounting packages. If 
you fall into this category, it is certainly worth tak- 
ing a look at! 

Requirements: MS-DOS 1.X with 128K RAM or MS- 
DOS 2.X with 192K RAM; two disk drives, printer 
Prentice-Hall, General Accounting $595; Accounts 
Payable $695; Accounts Receivable $695; Master 
Menu $25; Business Word Processor $250; 
N,E.A.T.$150. .. .■/::,V : ' : .": ; /:-v^ 

QUICK-TAX 

Quick-Tax is a tax-preparation package for 
professionals, it calculates and/prints 28 federal 
forms and schedules and returns for nearly 40 
states. .■•••'• :\ ./■//'; 

The program is menu-driven. It requests infor- 
mation from each schedule, independent forms 
first, and leads back to the 1040, client summaries, 
or state returns. Data can be edited using the Back- 
space, Delete, Insert, and Cursor keys or changed 
by calling up the appropriate line number and en- 
tering new figures. An option known : as Quick-Call 
makes it possible to run a tax return without enter- 
ing all the normal information, calculating the 
client's tax liability during the interview and deliv- 
ering the finished return later. '•■■■■■ 

After the calculations are finished, forms can be 
printed immediately or batched for fater output. 
Government forms, continuous-feed blank paper, 
and snap-apart sets may ail be used. Any form can 
be skipped during printing by typing "S." -Both 
qualifying and nonqualifying forms may be printed; 
A verification elective will check the input before 
calculations are made and will check calculations 
before forms or summaries are printed. Error mes-. 
sages pin down common input problems. •..■.■■.■. 

The final me ; nu prompt provides three alterna- 
tives; write a letter of instruction, print a billing 
statement, or address.an envelope. , 

Quick-Tax is easy to set up. A utilities disk sup- 
plied with the package is set up to configure it for 
most of the, computers on which it will run. For 
others, only four codes need be supplied: clear 
screen, cursor positioning, cursor left, and cursor 
right, _.".[",'.■'■ : -. '■■■■' :■'■'='■. 



32 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



This program offers many interactions between 
forms and schedules, with checks and balances to 
ensure error-free returns.. Single-entry input, sup- 
porting work sheets, and calculations of lowest tax 
are features that professionals need in a software 
package; they are available in this one- The ability 
to store and retrieve returns is a definite plus dur- 
ing the busy tax season. Yearly updates cost about 
half the original purchase price. 

In addition to the 1040 tax program, Quick-Tax, 
Ltd., offers general ledger, client write-up, payroll, 
amortization, and time/billing software for tax 
professionals. All programs come with a one-year 
warranty and hotline support. 
Requirements: CP/M 2.X, 56K RAM, two disk drives 
with at least 241 K each, 80 character by 24 line 
screen, 10 character-per-inch printer with forms 
tractor : '-"~y\- '■'■:'-^ 

Quick-Tax, $1,000 

REALWORLD ACCOUNTING SERIES 

- In the micro-based accounting software market, 
there are fewer than 15 major players at the mo : 
ment RealWorld Corp is one of them. They offer a 
complete line of multi-user accounting packages 
that en be used either as stand-alone applications 
or integrated system. Modules in the series include 
general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receiv- 
able, payroll, order entry with inventory control, 
and sales analysis. All of these packages are de- 
rived from minicomputer versions written in the . 
mid 1970s by MCBA and are programmed in RM 
COBOL. /••'• ••:v. ; -:v=:v;-.::: ,;■.■: \.-., V,.:.^.:. 

RealWorld is a mid- to high-level system that of- 
fers multi-user file lockout protection and. ah op- 
tional password security system, it can be run 
either on a floppy- or hard-disk system. To use the 
master menu, however, the system must be in- 
stalled on a hard disk. When multiple applications 
are installed on a hard disk, they can be completely 
integrated, and data keyed into one application can 
be shared by others. Additionally, all systems share 
a common user interface, having a similar menu 
appearance, and function keys that operate in the ■ 
same manner in each application. 

Evolving from a; minicomputer environment, 
these programs are fairly mature. There has been 
more than enough time to polish the software, and 
it runs well, without apparent bugs. 

Setup, for an experienced user with some ac- 
counting background, should pose no major diffi- 



culties. You have to set the current period through 
the accounting period processing menu; T his func- 
.,; tidh should beset on the main sign-on menu. Other, 
than this, there is not a lot to criticize, or praise, 
about getting things set up. Account structure is 
flexible; the chart of accounts was a four-digit 
number for the account and an optional three-digit 
number if you are using profit centers. 

The individual applications accomplish what 
they are supposed to. Most have some nice fea- 
tures in addition to the standard ones expected in 
a particular application. The general ledger han- 
dles up to 13 accounting periods (the extra period 
is often used for year-end adjustments) and will 
keep your transaction detail for the year, given 
enough disk space. The system has very flexible 
formatting on the financial statements and allows 
for on-line inquiry of individual account detail. 

The sales analysis module, which requires that 
you have installed the accounts receivable module, 
offers especially useful reports. You can analyze 
sales by state, item, sales volume, 'salesman, cus- 
tomer type, and of course, by customer. 

Order entry/inventory, performs well and offers 
such amenities as a pick 1 1st-,- back-order retention, 
automatic posting into A/R, and on-line order. sta- 
tus entry. The inventory function allows you to cost 
. your inventory by any of the three standard meth* 
ods— average cost, FIFO, and LIFO. 

RealWorld's accounts receivable allows user-de- 
finable aging and two levels of finance charges for 
each customer—for example, 5 percent-on the first 
$5,000 of an account, 10 percent on all amounts 
over $5,000. One very nice feature is that the sys- 
tem allows you to set up "miscellaneous" custom- 
ers and add a customer name when Inputting a 
receivable. This is good for processing onetime 
customers. The system allows you to handle both 
balance-forward and open-item customers, and 
provides an on-line customer account inquiry. : ; 
; ; Payroll is one of RealWorld's better modules. 1 it 
has many superior features, excellent reports, In- 
cluding one for union deductions, and a payroll 
worksheet for gathering input data, which can be 
printed in any of three ways. It. allows you to set up 
your own tax files, a rarity in micro-based payrolls, 
and supports a variety of pay periods. The software 
handles garnishes and Joans, stopping when the 
correct total amount has been deducted. It allows 
you to print out employee lists; which include or 
exclude terminated employees. Payroll permits 



Accounting 



33 



more than one check per employee per pay period 
—separate vacation and current-period checks can 
be issued to an employee— and can be set to cal- 
culate a. multiple-week vacation check on a weekly 
basis. A check for four weeks' vacation will have 
the same deduction as four separate weekly 
checks. 

..RealWorld has brought out a nice basic package 
with several interesting frills. Be forewarned that it 
is not a package for beginning users. If you, decide 
that this is the package for you and do not have a 
fairly good background in both computers and ac- 
counting, you will need some help installing it from 
your dealer, accountant, or both. 
Requirements: MS-DOS, 1 28K RAM; two disk 
drives, printer 

RealWorld Corp.,; General Ledger $670; Accounts 
Payable. $670; Accounts Receivable $670; Order 
Entry with Inventory $670; Sales Analysis $345; 
Payroll $670 - • V.i.":^-:v\\.-\- 

BL-1. ; : : : : ;- '.:,' ; ;';;: ; ■ ■ .' . :" ; - : - : - 

Unjike many of the : information-management 
programs on the market, RL-1 is a true relational 
database-management system. Designed and writ- 
ten especially for the IBM PC, it comes about, as 
close to /mainframe-database performance as you 
are likely to find in programs for personal comput- 
ers.', :{■]■]■ " .y^ijiyl \,f.. /;.:..... ...... . ...... -...,;■■. _ < ■ 

As in the case with most programs, though, there 

•are some tradeoffs involved. Although RL-1 is able 
to accept and manipulate data in a truly impressive 
manner, it also requires a considerable investment 
in learning time and effort in order to benefit from 
all it .has to offer. \. v >v? 

. This program is not going to be learned and put 
to use in a few hours of casual practice at the key- 
board. Unless you are willing to work at developing 
the skill needed to use it to best advantage, 7?M is 
probably not your best choice. However, if your 
requirements for, data management go beyond the 
abilities of the more simple file managers, RLr1 is 
worth a look... 

The documentation, which runs over 300 pages, 
is Complete and thorough to a fault. However, it is 
not always presented in logical order, and some of 
the early sections are difficult to grasp. Later on, 
after the manner of presentation becomes familiar, 
things seem. to go more smoothly. In any case, the 
manual-will .be best understood if you have had at 
least some programming experience; 



RL-1 is written in assembly language and con- 
sists of three parts: The Data-Manipulation Lan- 
guage (DML), a query language used for creating 
relations (files) and . manipulating data; the Rela- 
tional Editor, the section used to input, delete, and 
revise records in the database; and the Program 
Interface, which allows experienced programmers 
to write additional applications in any high-level 
language for accessing,' the database. >.-■. 

Creating a new file with DML is a rather cumber- 
some process that takes a little, getting used to./ Its 
commands, though, are simple and easy to learn. 
They will be familiar to anyone who has done any 
work with BASIC. 

.Once you have defined your.database and en- 
tered data, the power of RL~1 , becomes evident. 
Since it is a relational system, RL-1 is able to com- 
pare or mergedata from two or more separate files. 
The potential number of records within. a file and 
the size of individual records are limited only by the 
memory in your ; system and the capacity of the 

diskS. : ^ :■; ;:',■■"■■?:■ ,:■■: : \- : - 

flLrt's report generator: works smoothly and al- 
lows you to create custom formats for your reports. 
Horizontal scrolling off either edge of the screen 
permits you to : use a format wider than 1 1 inches : 
for.f printing on. wide paper. Also included is a 
'■comment!' field, that does not print out on hard 
copies. This allows you to include comments or. 
reminders to yourself that will not appear on the 
final reports. 

RL-1 is a : serious relational database manage-. 
ment;systemthat should be capable of handling 
most tasks required in a small business. .' .;,.., 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
AW Corp., $495;. ,*,<, 

THE SOFTWARE FITNESS PROGRAM 

; Open Systems' Software Fitness Program was 
originally written -for minicomputers in the mid- 
1970s. It has gone through several rewrites over the 
years, and is now available on a wide range of mi- 
cros. While no guarantee, this longevity suggests 
that when future customers need help.the firm will 
still be there to give it. ■, 

..The Software : Fitness Program (SFP) is a series 
of integrated accounting applications that include 
general ledger, accounts receivable, accounts pay- 
able, payroll, inventory, sales order entry and pur- 
chase order entry. An additional package, Team 
Manager,.is a report writer. AH of the packages ex- 



34 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



cept Team Manager and sales and purchase order 
entry may be run as stand-alone applications. This 
is very useful for "cash basis" businesses, where 
automatic posting of the accounts payable and re- 
ceivable into the general ledger will distort the fi- 
nancial status of the business. The applications 
can be run on a high capacity floppy disk system, 
but a hard disk makes it both much faster and 
much I ess awkward. ■"'■. ■■.■■:■■. : - ; ; :..-■:■.:_. 

The MS-DOS packages provided for review were 
written in Control C's interpreted Business BASIC. 
The BASIC interpreter came in its own package, 
with documentation on its features and use. Many 
complex applications (such as accounting) written 
in an interpretive language seem to run extremely 
slowly. This was not the case with the Software 
Fitness Program, although whether this speed is 
the result of Control C's BASIC, the hard disk sys- 
tem on which the software was installed, or both, is 
not clear. "-■■■■ 

Any complex system of programs has both good 
and bad points. Many of the program's flaws arise 
from Open Systems' minicomputer heritage. Some 
have to do with appearances. The report formats 
and menus are very plain, compared to some other 
micro software, in most of the applications, data 
entry is awkward. For example, journal entries 
must be entered one line to a screen. Many other 
micro-based genera! ledgers allow you to enter be- 
tween 10 and 20 line items per screen page, a pro- 
cess many operators find much less confusing. 

Another poor feature is that the user may alter or 
delete accounts and account balances and infor- 
mation without leaving an audit trail. This is an ex- 
tremely poor internal control procedure. - 

Some aspects of the Software Fitness Program 
seem both, good and bad. Some reports, such as 
the general ledger's financial statements, must be 
user defined. This is good in that it offers you a 
great deal of flexibility in the report formatting. Yet 
an inexperienced user may have difficulty In figur- 
ing out what the format should be and how to set 
up the report. In addition, each line of the report 
must be separately set up. This is not particularly 
time consuming, but the report control must be 
changed each time an account is deleted or a new 
account added to the chart of accounts.; 1 ; ; > 

The Software Fitness, Program's applications 
center around a set of databases. This is a good 
approach, but the program requires that the size of 
these "files be predefined when the system Is in- 



stalled. They provide a utility to expand the files, 
should your business grow, and provide work- 
sheets to determine needed file sizes, : but data- 
bases should have been allocated dynamically 
from session to session. These defects are, how- 
ever, more than offset by the Software Fitness Pro- 
gram's good features. 

Software Fitness Program is organized around a 
database/using a main menu to provide access to 
the various applications and file maintenance. This 
organized, consistent approach carries over into. 
the operation of the individual programs. While the 
data entry methods are a bit awkward, once one 
program is learned, you will have no difficulty op- 
erating the entire system. This main menu is sup- 
plemented by a multilevel password system that, if 
implemented, can provide a master password to. 
get into the main menu, and various other levels of 
passwords to limit access to sensitive functions 
such as printing checks and file maintenance. 

The program is a multiuser system, allowing up 
to 25 terminals. While some processes, such •as 
posting, are single-user, others may be carried on 
concurrently. Up to five printers can be used, and 
an individual printer can be assigned to a particular 
terminal.- ■ ,;; 

Open Systems' documentation and installation 
procedures have been harshly criticized in the 
past. They have apparently rewritten them, and 
they are now easy to followand well organized. The 
rather imposing 120-page installation guide is du- 
plicated in each package's documentation; 1 Instal- 
lation of the software went smoothly, though 
transferring the considerable number of files from 
the floppies to the hard disk does take a bit of time. 
One of the most attractive features of the Soft- 
ware Fitness Program, is Its openness. Many users 
are very dissatisfied with canned software. At the. 
same time, writing a custom generaliedger or ac-- 
counts receivable from scratch can be extremely . 
time consuming, costly, and difficult. This program 
offers a third alternative: The source code is pro- 
vided. For a fee, Open Systems will provide addi- 
tional documentation for a programmer's use. If 
your only need is for add itional reports, or refor- 
matting of the existing reports, then the Team Man- .. 
ager report writer provides this facility, these 
features allow the creation of. a custom-tailored. 
software system at a fraction of the cost in time, 
effort, and money that would be needed to accom- 
plish this from scratch. System houses, consul-, 1 



Accounting 



35 



tantsi and dealers will find this ■ .particularly 
attractive. ;■■■..• : . 

As for specifics, General Ledger, like the rest of 
the Software Fitness Program, exhibits some short- 
comings of its minicomputer heritage. Many micro- 
based packages provide various cashbooks, such 
as a cash disbursements journal or cash sales jour- 
nal. This general ledger provides for only one 
method of data input, the general journal., The 
cashbooks are available by using other applica- 
tions such as accounts receivable and accounts 
payable. It does allow you to organize the general 
journal- by seven-source codes — manual entry, ac- 
counts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, job 
cost, year-end process, and recurring entry. The 
General Ledger does provide forup to 25 charac- 
ters of description for each line of entry and for a 
reference of up to. eight characters. . General 
Ledger provides for recurring journal entries (such 
as depreciation or. rent), up to 13 accounting pe- 
riods (it ■■Is very convenient to use period 13 for 
year-end closing adjustments), and great flexibility 
in financial statement formats. 

v On the down side, data entry and report format- 
ting are awkward,* and the system has inadequate 
safeguards for preventing the G/U from becoming 
out of balance. It is also possible to alter accounts 
without leaving an audit trail. 

'Accounts Receivable integrates with general 
ledger, inventory, and job cost. It provides both 
open time and balance forward accounts. You can 
build tables for different sales tax rates and finance 
"charge methods and allow discount terms for up to 
nine terms. The system allows for cash customers 
to record -sale and payment in one step. It will 
prompt when an invoice exceeds a. customer's 
credit limit. Accounts Receivable provides an audit 
trail for manually entered miscellaneous credits, 
such. as. credit memos. The user determines the 
aging period that cash receipts/are applied to. You 
can print all invoices or just selected ones, and 
include a message of up to 50 characters on the 
invoice. The sates journal can be printed in either 
detail, .with- all invoice lines, onsummary form. It 
provides a cash flow report that gives the amount 
of receivables that should be received within any 
four dates specified— very useful! Either printed 
forms' or blank paper can be used. You can place 
an /invoice on hold where amounts, are being dis- 
puted. Data entry is similar to the awkward "method 
used in G/L '.. 



Accounts Payable provides a hold/release fea- 
ture that requires that an invoice be released for 
payment— a good control procedure. It can be in- 
terfaced with General Ledger, job cost, and inven- 
tory. The system provides good cash flow 
functions, including cash flow report, essentially a 
cash requirements report, a cash discount report 
based on discount due date, and will check for pre- 
paid invoices and- not print a check. Each check 
printed will have a remittance advice listing each 
invoice being paid. The system can print all checks, 
a range of checks, or individual checks. The ac- 
counts payable system provides most commonly 
used reports; purchase journal (full detail or sum- 
mary), miscellaneous debits journal (detail or sum- 
mary), prepaid invoices as of a due date, invoices 
as of a due date, cash flow report, vendor analysis, 
A/P check registers, and mailing labels. . 

Payroll allows for multicompany payrolls and has 
excellent reports (time ticket edit report, a payroll 
edit register, check register, withholding reports 
for weekly and quarterly, 941 s, W-2s, sick leave and 
Vacation, and employee labels). It permits different 
deductions to be taken at different times of the 
month; for- example, insurance or dues can be 
taken out the third week of each month. This is 
seldom found in micro-based systems. The system 
allows for five deduction ', codes other than FICA 
and federal withholding and four other pay types. 
These both may be a bit sparse for your needs. 
Additionally, the routines Tor calculating state, 
local, or other taxes must either be programmed by 
the user or dealer or purchased separately from 
another company for $150. An prder form .is in- 
cluded. ■■■..'■■■. ■'■:'■''.■'.'■'■'■'*■; 

In general, the Software Fitness Program is not 
for the one-person small business or those with no 
experience or interest in computers. Those with 
ten or more employees, with needs or desires not 
easily met with canned software, or with some pre- 
vious computer background will find this software 
well worth looking at. For the more advanced user 
this is one of the better choices in the micro mar- 
ket. . ... 

Requirements: CP/M, MS-DOS, or Xenix, 80-col- 
umn display, 132-coiumn printer, two disk drives \ 
Open Systems, $695 >. 

THE TAX MACHINE 

The Tax Machine from Accountants Microsys- 
tems can take a lot of that trauma out of a harried 



36 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



tax practitioners life. Not only is it a full-featured 
system for preparing personal tax returns and their 
associated schedules, but it accomplishes this in a 
format familiar to many practitioners now process- 
ing with. a computer service bureau. Thus it eases 
the chaos that can accompany setting up an in- 
house computer. - . 

In evaluating specialized software, one item 
often overlooked is the experience and reputation 
of the company offering the software. Accountants 
Microsystems comes out very well in this respect. It 
was founded and is run by accountants to provide 
software for accountants. Their "premier" product, 
Data Write, is one of the best known client write-up 
•systems for microcomputers, The 1983 Tax Ma- 
chine is AM's first venture into tax return prepara- 
tion, and they took their time and did it right. 

Any tax preparation system meant for profes- 
sionals willprepare form 1040 and many of the as- 
sociated forms — for 1040ES, Schedules 
A,B,C,D,E,F,G,SE & W, form 2106, 21 1 9, 221 t 2440, 
2441, 3468, 3903, 4136, 4137, 4255, 4562, 4797, 
4835, 5695, 6251 and 6252. in addition; the system 
can prepare additional supporting schedules and 
statements such as a W-1 worksheet, free form 
statements, and even a transmittal letter that In- 
structs clients on how much they owe or have com- 
ing as a refund. About the only thing this system 
doesn't produce is a bill forthe client. 

AMI also provides several convenient optionals. 
One calculates a depreciation schedule in the 
same format as Form 4562. These figures are not 
automatically transferred to Form .4562. The sec- 
ond is a current year tax planner called Plan. This 
option lets you alter current year values to ascer- 
tain the effect on tax liability. These changes do 
not alter a client's tax return. 

Tax Machine provides two methods of process- 
ing. In the interactive mode,. the preparer enters 
data directly into the computer. The screens mimic 
the federal forms. This mode is good for preparing 
a return while a client Is sitting there. The second 
mode will appeal to those practitioners cu/rently 
using service bureaus. In' the interview mode, the 
preparer fills out a series of "interview" sheets, 
similar to the input forms used by tax service bur- 
eaus. The information collected can be entered by 
another member of the staff less Involved in client 
interviews. 

■■ As is usual on this kind of software, there are a 
variety of print options, and returns can be printed 



on blank paper for use with overlays, or on contin- 
uous or individual printed forms. ' 

The Tax Machine is a large system and must be 
used on a hard disk. The 1983 version reviewed 
was provided :on five double-sided IBM format 
disks; the depreciation and tax planner modules 
took three more disks. Installation was easy and 
quick. The longest part of the process was copying 
the over 200 files onto the hard disk. Many of these 
files are combined into several large files during 
installation. After completing the process and de- 
leting the files that were combined, The Tax Ma- 
chine consisted of 35 files taking up almost 1.4 
megabytes of disk storage. 

Once the program is installed, you proceed to set 
up your company and preparer information. If you 
wish, you can input a standard fee for each form, 
which will be printed as part of the client status 
'report. This will assist you in determining the fee to 
charge a particular client. 

Once installed and set-up, The. Tax Machine runs 
beautifully. It is menu driven and easy to use : in 
either interview or interactive mode. ; 

There is only one thing to fault. While .for 1983 
they can provide companion state returns for Cali- 
fornia, Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio, they 
will not get around to a New York State module 
until 1984. ; ;' 

In summary, AM's Tax Machine is a well-de- 
signed, : well-executed, professional .tax return 
preparation system. If you are a professional tax 
preparer and wish to bring the process in-house, 
this software should fit the bill. If you prepare a 
substantial number of state and local returns, 
check with AM to see whether the companion mod- 
ules you need will be available. ••':' -V ':■■: 
. Requirements: CP/M, MS-DOS, Xenix; hard disk . . 
Accountants Microsystems, $1,495 ....-:-; 

TAX PREPARER 

Tax Preparer is a tax-return preparation package 
designed for the professional who must handle 
many returns throughout the year. It may also be 
used by individuals, but the relatively high cost of 
the package might turn many away. 

The program will prepare and print most forms 
generally used, including the Form 1040, Sched- 
ules A through G, R, RP, SE and W. Also covered 
are ten less common forms, such as Form 2106, 
employee business expense, and Form '3468, in- 
vestment credit 



Accounting 



37 



Operation is easy and straightforward. A facsim- 
ile of each form is displayed on screen, and the 
user fills in the appropriate blanks. All computa- 
tions are done automatically, including calculation 
of tax liability. Results are updated and displayed 
on each line and form referenced. Access to sup- 
porting forms and schedules is available either by 
direct menu selection or by pressing I (for itemize) 
at the appropriate line on the 1040. 

You may print a "client billing letter" (invoice) 
along with a cover letter outlining your client's tax 
liability. Two printers are supported so that blank 
1040s can be in one and plain paper in the other. 
And a disk-library function summarizes the clients 
contained on each data disk, including which 
forms and schedules have been completed. 

Other features include: printouts acceptable to 
the IRS; unlimited itemizing; batGh processing; in- 
stant "quick-print" of any form directly from the 
entry screen, and compatibility with many 80-col- 
umn cards for the Apple; hard disk drives; and 
memory-expansion boards. 

While this program has been around for many 
years and has been virtually the only package of its 
kind available, it is not without problems. The pro- 
gram does everything claimed except for "high- 
speed data entry," "rapid editing," and "instant ac- 
cess." The messages "STANDBY! Computer is 
Pausing to Refresh" and "STANDBY! Computa- 
tions in Progress" occur constantly and seem to 
last forever. Screen entry is slow, with the results 
lagging behind each keypress by one or two sec- 
onds. Using the Repeat key to skip lines that re- 
quire no data invites long waits for the cursor to 
return. And mathematical calculations are among 
the slowest ever seen. In a simple test, it took 1 
minute, 34 seconds to calculate the tax owed from 
the time a single wage entry was input. 

Program operation in general is s-l-o-w. Even 
disk accesses are interrupted many times, making 
one think the program has bombed. Given modern 
programming skills and the substantial price 
charged for the program, techniques such as com- 
piled code or machine-language routines could be 
used to improve the speed problem. 



Error-handling routines have been improved, but 
it is still possible to crash the program. The Reset 
key has been ignored— a common accident on the 
Apple — and pressing it will cause everything to die. 

The program is supplied in copyable form on two 
sides of one diskette. The manual, however, is 
vague about backups and merely states that the 
user should make a backup using the standard 
copy program supplied with your disk operating 
system. In reality, the user should make a separate 
copy of each side and not attempt to use both sides 
of a single diskette. 

The manual, although now professionally printed 
and vastly improved over earlier versions, lacks an 
index and contains many appendices using micro 
type. 

Although this program only handles federal re- 
turns, a California state supplement is offered, and 
others will be available in the future. Because tax 
laws and the tax tables change every year, a low- 
cost update package is available to registered own- 
ers of the program. 

Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
orlle, 48K RAM; IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive 
Howard Software Services, $225 



SOFTWARE EXCHANGE 

Don't throw out those educational pro- 
grams your children have outgrown. You can 
turn them in for valuable software at the Na- 
tional Software Exchange in Montclair, New 
Jersey. For an individual membership fee of 
$75 per year — institutions pay $250— plus an 
exchange fee of $5 per program, you can 
trade unwanted disks for any of several 
hundred titles in the Exchange's bank. The 
emphasis here is on educational programs 
and games, but a few business programs are 
also listed. In addition, members can trade 
hardware through the Exchange's newsletter, 
SWAP. The National Software Exchange can 
be reached at (201 ) 783-6000. 



38 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



DATABASE 



Managing information of one kind or another is 
a major use of mo;st* computers; With the tre- 
mendous number of microcomputers' that have 
been sold, jt is no great surprise that some of the 
best selling software packages are those which ac- 
complish data management tasks. •;. ■ 

The ability to capture, store, and retrieve infor- 
mation has applications in many areas of our lives, 
both personal and. business:. At-home, these soft- 
ware packages can track your tax deductions, keep 
your recipes, and manage your Christmas card list, 
■\n business, the uses have even fewer limits. In 
many cases, data management systems of one 
form or another will allow you not only to accom- 
plish many of the functions of. dedicated applica- 
tion packages, but also to design and generate 
your own custom applications. 

While the term "database management system" 
has become almost a generic reference, for. any 
software package that can capture or retrieve data, 
there are actually several different types of soft- 
ware that can handle various data management 
tasks; The simplest of these, that is,, the least pow- 
erful, not necessarily the easiest to use, is the file 
handler. Fife handlers differ from true, database 
managers in that they allow you to manage only 
one file at a, time, This is. not necessarily a bad 
thing, but many applications you might wish to im- 
plement will probably require the ability to access 
two or more files. Aside from this limitation, many 
file handlers have;. features similar to their more 
complex cousins, the true database management 
systems (DBMS). Additionally, as with all informa- 
tion management software, file handlers are avail- 
able in two "flavors," those which are able to 
create a program, either in one of the standard lan- 
guages—most often BASIC or COBOL—or' in a 
special one of their own {program generators, and 
those which do not).. . 

, . For many of us there will be no great advantage 
or disadvantage in using one type or the other. If 
you are a fairly good programmer, file handlers and 
other, information handling systems that generate 
well-documented program source codes can be 
moderately useful. But we all have our blind spots, 
software designers as many as the rest of us. 
Sooner or later you may wish to accomplish some- 
thing the designer of the package never antici- 
pated, if you can program, and the package you are 
using generates code, you can "massage" the gen- 
erated programs, changing or adding new code to . 



make, them do exactly what you want. For most of 
us, however, this is no small task., Unless you are a 
programming ace, you may be better off going for 
a software system that offers you more flexibility to 
begin with. ■ 

In between the file handlers and the true multifile 
database management systems are several other 
types of software packages which are often lumped 
into the generic "database" classification.; Two of 
the more common of these are screen. managers 
and report generators. Both products, while not 
complete information management systems by 
themselves, perform useful tasks, whether they are 
used solo or in concert. ■''.'■ 

Screen managers handle one of programming's 
more tedious tasks, the process of .formatting us- 
able and attractive data entry and display screens. 
They do this by allowing you to "paint" your screen 
with. the design for a, "fill in the blanks" type of 
form. Many screen managers contain facilities to 
allow you to define data type, characters, number, 
date, money, and/or, yes no, and to do some sort of 
range and error checking on the input, Most of 
these products offer you the option of setting up 
your data files using one or more keys or indexes, 
and several are capable of generating program code 
that can be used as a stand-alone data entry module 
or integrated into a larger program of your own. 

While screen managers, take care of the problem 
of getting data into your system, this is only half of 
the job. Retrieving the information and printing it 
in a usable. format is the province of report genera- 
tors. These are software packages that read data 
files and generate a report- to your own specifica- 
tions. Report generators vary greatly in their ability 
to produce complex reports. Some can combine 
data from several files into a single report. The abil- 
ity of many report generators to combine informa- 
tion from multiple files gives the screen manager- 
report generator combination far more capability 
than. many file handlers. The limiting factor seems 
to be that many screen managers lack the ability to 
pull information from other files into the screen 
you are using. . .' ■■'■■■■■/■ 

At the top of the ladder are the true database 
management systems. These provide multiple file 
handling and, like the other types of software, are 
sometimes capable of generating program source 
code. Thus, while a database manager may be a 
program generator, not all program generators are 
database managers. 



Databases 



39 



Database managers use several different meth- 
ods to organize and reference their database. Most 
DBMS available at this time for microcomputers 
are built around the relational model. It takes a 
book on database theory to explain that word "re- 
lational" in detail, but in genera! there are only two 
criteria: A database is relational if its file organiza- 
tion can be represented as a table and has some 
form of Join command. 

Tabular organization is fairly simply to visualize. 
Individual records in the file are represented as 
horizontal rows. The individual files in each record, 
which are the same from record to record, are rep- 
resented as columns in the table. This type of table 
is illustrated below. This hypothetical "Employee 
Master File" contains five records. Each record 
contains four fields: Social Security # (S.S. #), Last 
Name {L Name), First Name (F Name), and Phone 
Number (Phone #). ..,■:.■;: : ; k- 



Record 1 


SS# 


LNAME 


FNAME 


PHONE # 


Record 2 


SS# 


LNAME 


FNAME 


PHONE # 


Record 3 


SS # 


LNAME 


FNAME 


PHONE # 


Record 4 


SS# 


LNAME 


FNAME 


PHONE # 


Record 5 


SS# 


LNAME 


FNAME 


PHONE # 



Tabular File Representation 

•The second requisite is a Join command. This 
command, or one like it, permits the file you are 
working with to access information from another 
file, in effect, "joining" several flies. Many database 
managers that allow full screen entry are "forms 
oriented"; they allow you to design the equivalent 
of paper forms' to be used to enter data. Many of 
these have no formal Join command but contain 
such equivalent commands as "transfer data from 
another form." ■■"■■■■■■ 

Another term that comes up frequently in discus- 
sions and advertisements dealing with databases is 
"application generator." By strict definition, an ap- 
plication generator is any piece of software that 
can be usedto construct even the simplest of appli- 
cations. Using this definition, many types of soft- 
ware could be considered application generators, 
including file handlers, program generators, data- 
base managers, and even spreadsheets. 

While this definition may be-valid, it is also 
slightly misleading. Application generators, or ap- 
plication development systems, are generally spe- 
cial purpose database management systems that 



have been optimized for the purpose of creating 
complex multifile applications. These application 
generators can be program generators, or they 
may use preprogrammed modules to accomplish 
different data processing tasks at the user's discre- 
tion. ;; ' 

Application generators are often enhanced to 
allow the development of turn-key applications. 
Features such as extensive menu management and 
"run time" systems allow the development of appli- 
cations in which the database itself is transparent. 
The end users never see the database management 
system itself, nor do they need to know how the 
DBMS operates or is used; V;. .■■■■: ■,■'■■■" 

Before buying any information management 
software, there are several things to consider. The 
most obvious is what you hope to accomplishrWe 
are always tempted to buy the most powerful ■soft- 
ware we can afford. While this is not necessarily 
wrong, it is important to. realize that the more pow- 
erful a package is, the more complex it generally is 
to learn and use. If the things you wish to accom- 
plish are basically simple, you may find it more dif- 
ficult to implement themuusing a complex, 
powerful package. 

Another factor to consider is your level of exper- 
tise. If you are relatively inexperienced, a complex 
software package is going to take a while to learn 
to use. If you are not willing to put the time. and 
effort into learning it, don't waste your money. ;• 

.One last bit of warning. Database managers, ap- 
plication generators, and the like, are tremen- 
dously powerful software tools for translating your 
ideas and concepts into working software systems. 
Unfortunately, the most powerful database in the 
world won't turn a poorly designed system into a- 
winner/Designing an application is still a task bet- 
ter accomplished by a human being. Take the time 
to think things through before sitting down at your 
computer. These tools can do much of the work for 
you, but don't expect them to do your thinking. The 
finished quality of your information management 
application will be a reflection of the thought 
you've put into it.°° ■■'■'■a- t'nwy: - 

ALADIN - ■ 

Aladin is a menu-driven relational database sys- 
tem with some interesting and important differ- 
ences. It allows the user to set up an input screen, 
enter data, edit the data, store the data on disk, and 
produce reports from trie information that has 



40 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



been entered. Setting up an Aladin database is an 
easy task: Just specify the fields you wish to use in 
your record, then enter some information about 
them in the length of each field and the type of data 
it will contain. Four data types are allowed: alphan- 
umeric, numeric, date, and money. 

Once this has been done, Aladin will set up an 
input screen for you. If you don't like the. one that 
the program does, you can use various keys to 
move the fields around the screen. -■■.-. 

Generating a report is only slightly more difficult. 
While Aladin may not have the flexibility in format- 
ting a report that some other packages do, its 
query module allows tremendous flexibility -in 
specifying what. information will appear in your re- 
port. Additionally, /4/aoV>7 allows : information in 
database to be used with a word. processor or text. 
editorMn effect, a "mail-merge" capability. ,.,:'- 

Aladin also has several features not often found 
in -database software. : Its statistics module allows 
you to perform various statistical analysis on your 
database. These analyses provide information on, 
frequency distribution, mean, standard deviation, 
correlation, and regression analysis and chi- 
square analysis of data. The results can be pre- 
sented in absolute or percentage terms or, using 
crude graphics, as histograms, bar charts, or scat- . 
terg rams. Information on degrees of freedom and 
levels of significance are also provided. While not 
everyone will need this statistical ability, thosewho 
do will find it welcome and easy to use. . 

The free-form calculator allows you both' to. set 
up spreadsheet reports, and to perform a tremen- 
dous variety of computations on fields containing 
both numeric and alphabetic data. The tutorial 
manual gives the example of subtracting "Benz" 
from ''Mercedes-Benz" and winding up ■ with 
Mercedes. At its simplest level, using, the calculator 
is much easier than a spreadsheet: Move the cur- 
sor to a field and specify an operation. It is also 
used to perform multilevel sorts byconcatinating 
fields and sorting on the combined field. By using 
the query facility, you can select only certain rec- 
ords to be included in this sort. ■ 

Using the optional Program Genie, a Pascal pro- 
gram generator, you can generate complete 
turnkey systems in Pascal. A Pascal programmer 
can further customize them. Other abilities of Ala- 
din include a script capability, which allows you to 
setup and save a series of commands, which are 
then used as if they had been typed in at the key- 



board. This facility is useful for setting up batch 
update operations and job strings. Additionally, 
Aladin also permits you to -include SuperCalc or 
VisiCalc files in a form letter generated with your 
word processor and Aladin. v : 

Aladin comes with a manual containing an excel-; 
lent series of tutorials on using Aladin and a useful 
reference section. The tutorial consists of eight 
chapters each containing one or more lessons. 
Each lesson focuses on one or two of. Aladin's fea- 
tures arid takes 15 to 20 minutes to complete. By 
the time you have completed ail eight chapters you 
have an excellent idea of what Ala,din will do and 
how to accomplish it. While Aladin by itself js not a 
product you would wish to use to develop com- 
plete turnkey application systems for others, it is 
an excellent database. It is easier to learn and to 
use than ^many products in its class, while provid- 
ing features that most databases do not. 1 •: 
Requirements: IBM PC, DOS 1.1, 128K RAM or 
DOS 2.0, 192K RAM, two 320 disk drives or a hard 
disk- ';■ 
Advance Data Institute America, $695 ... 

THE BASIC ANSWER 

BASIC is well known for being easy to learn and 
use, but it is also easy to abuse. You can bang out 
a BASIC program right at the keyboard, writing 
some code, testing, and modifying, until you get it 
right. Unfortunately, this also makes it easy to write 
a messy program that is hard to understand and 
change when you haven't seen it for.a while.: 

The BASIC Answer, from Logical Systems, puts a : - 
new face on Microsoft BASIC programming for. the 
TRS-80. It runs under LDOS operating system on 
the Model I or ill, and LDOS or TRS DOS 6.0 on the 
Model 4. The BASIC Answer, also called simply 
TBA, is a translator from "structured BASIC", to Mi- 
crosoft BASIC. You use the BASIC editor, or your 
favorite text editor, to create a TBA program. TBA 
translates this program to normal Microsoft BASIC, 
which you run in the usual manner ; : ■ 

TBA programs are collections of line numberless 
"procedures,", or subroutines. ; Procedures are 
identified by labels instead of by line numbers. 
Variables can be up to 14 characters long, and all 
characters are significant: TBA can distinguish. 
LONGNAME.DEMOI from LONGNAME.DEM02. 
TBA lets you write meaningful statements like "IF 
BALANCE !> THEN. GOTO @ PRINT.iNVOlCE" -■ 
instead of "IF BA > THEN 200." One drawback is 



Databases 



41 



that you must follow variables with explicit type 
identifiers, such as the "J" used for. single preci- 
sion variables. Add the "@" sign before labels, and 
the resulting program looks cluttered. These signs 
persist in the output code, taking up a byte per 
variable, .; 

TBA lets you declare a variable to be "local" to a 
portion of your program. Local variables have no 
meaning outside that part of the program, so their 
names can be reused elsewhere with no conflicts. 

TBA also supports conditional translation. You ; 
can control whether specific parts of your program 
are translated or ignored during the translation 
process. . ■ : '' ; - 

. There is a price to pay for this added program- 
ming' convenience. Every time you change your 
program, you must put it through the translator 
before you can run it again. On the other hand, TBA 
lets you build libraries of useful BASIC subroutines 
and easily merge them into new programs, speed- 
ing up the development process, - ■■■'.■.-'■! 

TBA comes with a good manual that includes tu- 
torials, examples, and an index. It works as adver- 
tised and could.changethewayyou look at BASIC. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model I or III with LDOS, 
Model 4 -i •■■-■;■.■■••■/::■■.!■: 
Logical Systems, Model I or III $69; Model 4 $79 

BIMS (BUSINESS INFORMATION 

MANAGEMENT SYSTEM) 

Many database management programs are so- 
phisticated and complex; and are designed to han- 
dle very large files using multiple disks or hard disk 
systems. Many' people, however, require only an 
inexpensive, simple to use program that will handle 
relatively small files. In this category are such ap- 
plications as home inventories, checkbook regis- 
ters, accounting -journals, catalogs, real estate 
listings, sales reports, and name and address files. 

BIMS (Business Information Management Sys- 
tem) is designed to do just this. Entirely memory 
based, all data entry; sorting, searching, and print- 
ing is done without the constant disk accessing 
that siows down. many programs. For instance, a 
500-record name and address file can be sorted by 
name andby city in less than 10 seconds, then 
printed and sorted back to name order in a twinkle 
of an eye. '■■'■■ 

Whereas many .programs require fixed-length 
fields that use up valuable disk and memory space, 
BIMS. uses only what is required. If one name is 10 



characters long and the next is 25, then only 35 
spaces are actually used. Because of this, one dis- 
kette can hold 2,000 or more name and address 
records, depending on field lengths, with 500 or 
more in memory at any one time. A maximum of ten 
fields can be defined for each file with no limit to 
the number of files each disk can hold. During data 
entry, a copy-field option allows entering the same 
information automatically in successive records 
without having to type it each time. ; : . 

Records are scrolled on screen either forward or 
backwards with a selection of all, one, or a range of 
records. Search any field for either a complete or 
partial match with the results listed on screen or 
printed, in a concise report, 

-The sort and report generator functions can pro- 
duce many different printed reports from the same 
data. As an example, your checkbook register con- 
tains data in chronological order. Sort and print a 
listing either by payee, check number, description, 
expense category, or whatever. A totai-on-field- 
break option prints subtotals every time the speci- 
fied field changes, thus providing subtotals by ex- 
pense category, month, payee, and so on, along 
with a bottom-line grand total. If desired, subtotals 
only may be printed. :■■■'■:■■■■■ v.-. .".'■. - 

Reports can include any number of fields printed 
in any order up to maximum printer capacity. Nu- 
merical columns are right justified with dollar 
amounts correctly formatted. Labels of up to ten 
lines can be printed and used for mailing, file fold- 
ers, parts bins, or whatever. 

Files are stored as standard DOS text files acces- 
sible by many word-processing and telecommuni- 
cations programs. A "Range Save 1 ' option allows 
splitting files and saving each segment under a dif- 
ferent name. Create new files by merging .these 
segments into one. v. V: - 

Unprotected, BIMS is written primarily in BASIC, 
may be user modified, and comes with a detailed 
instruction manual. :::: - '■■■■■ ' : ■■ 

Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, 11 + 
orlle,48K RAM, disk drive •■■■ ..-■■■■■■ -v- 

Gary Keenliside & Associates, $49.95 

BOOKENDS: REFERENCE 

MANAGEMENT SYSTEM 

Bookends is an amazing program. If you are a 
student, scientist, lawyer, or anybody who writes 
papers or reports with references, then this is one 
program to get. A very sophisticated database, it is 



42 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



designed -to keep track of bibliographical refer- 
ences; it is capable of much more. Bookends will 
store all the information that you might use to ref- 
erence or cite a. document of any kind— books, 
magazine articles, or whatever. Once the informa- 
.. tion is in a database file, Bookends will allow you 
. to search through the file, extract the relevant ref- 
erences, and then output them to aprinter or a disk 
file in any format. ■ ■■■■■'■■■■■•■'■■■'.■:.:.■■:■'<■■■■•.>.•■■'■. 

The program is friendly and menu driven, with a 
built in help function. A written tutorial and exam- 
pies on disk make learning to use it simple. .:.:■: 

The librarian module, which is the main part of 
Bookends, allows you to create, add, modify, or 
search for references in the database. Data entry 
and editing in this mode is performed with the aid 
of many user prompts {e.g., the program tells you 
what to do next) and it is very forgiving of mistakes. 
Disk assess in Apple DOS is slow, so Bookends 
keeps: the active database in RAM. This limits the 
size of each database to about 35 kilobytes on a 
64K Apple; however, holding the file in RAM allows- 
incredibly fast searching and sorting.:.: . 
j The number of references -that can be.in one file 
is highly variable, because each record lias .nine 
spaces, or fields, for data— author, title, keywords,., 
and so on. These can each contain up to 760 char- 
acters. A tenth field is a singfe character for classi- 
fication of record. Bo ok ends does- not store 
unused parts of the field, so files are much more 
compact than they would be with most other pro- 
grams. Each field can contain several versions.of 
its data, which can be selected for different types 
of output. For example,- the Journal of ^reproduci- 
ble Results can be cited by title or as "Irrep. 
Resul.," depending on the circumstances. Because 
Bookends allows nine large fields and stores the 
entries for each record in a compact form, it can be 
used as a simple general purpose filing system for 
recipes, sports trivia, a record collection, or any 
information you might put on index cards. - : 

Bookends will search for records that fit several 
keys linked by logical operators— and, or, not— for 
example, "animals'but not dogs." Searches may be - 
limited to author, title, or keyword fields, or may., 
scan the entire text. After references have been se- 
lected, they can be printed as they appear in the 
database or in any format you create.. Bookends 
can have four different formats in .memory at one 
time and will automatically switch formats for dif- 
ferent classifications, like books or magazine arti- 



cles. The ability to save, edit, search, and then 
automatically reformat your references, stream- 
lines one of the most laborious tasks in writing a 
bibliography. 

For users with modems who search Medline, 
DIALOG, and BRS online and then download infor- 
mation from their databases, a translator program, 
available separately, converts text files in these for- 
mats into a Bo okends database. 

Bookends is a well conceived and executed pro- 
gram that performs admirably. It contains many 
features that make it well worth the purchase price. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , He, or III in emulation 
mode; 48K RAM; disk drive 

Sensible Software, Bookends $124.95; Translators 
$49.95 .; ■■,:•.■:■■■■■::.:■■■■■..■,"-'..■■ 



BPI INFORMATION MANAGEMENT 

Data management software generally falls into 
one of two categories. A package that can use only 
a single file at a time is a file handler, while pack- 
ages able to handle multiple files are considered 
database management' systems. Under this classi- 
fication, the BPI system is a file handler, but one 
that has many features of mo're elaborate database' 
systems. ■ : -.- 

Information Management ;{IM) is forms-oriented: 
Data is entered by filling In the blanks of/an on- 
screen "form." Each form : . can -.have several 
"pages" (screens), and a form can consist of sev- 
eral "data modules." The use of these data mod- 
ules allows you to group items of related 
information on a page and move between modules 
with functions keys. .■■ :.,■: 

Access to the system is protected by a two-level 
password system. The operator password permits 
access to a pre-defined information systems, but 
the program's design functions are protected by a 
manager password. .•';••'• 

.Using the software is easy. The first step is to 
design the form. This is done by entering informa- 
tion about the various fields the file contains. The 
type of field, the field description that will appear 
on the screen, and the length are entered. 

A form can have up to 100 fields, totalling 1,199 
characters, and each field can be up to 76 charac- 
ters long, including the on-screen, description. 
Range and error-checking options are specified, 
and the system will then automatically arrange the 
fields on the form, which you can then modify. Al- 



Databases 



43 



tematively, you can locate the fields yourself with 
the cursor movement keys. 

Creating reports is just as simple. You can 
choose to create reports in a standard listing for- 
mat, selecting the fields to be included and modify- 
ing the package's automatic formatting. Oryou can 
create "Freeform" reports; This option allows you 
to include information from your file in a text docu- 
ment. This document can be a maximum of 88 lines 
long, each line containing 79 characters.. This is 
excellent for producing form letters. 

The system has many features for selecting rec- 
ords based on various criteria and allows you to do 
complex arithmetic calculations between fields 
and batch updates and deletions of records. It is 
accompanied by 13 Pi's usual good manual contain- 
ing an excellent tutorial, practice disk, and work- 
sheets to help you set up your files. : . 

There are many tasks around the home or office 
that do not require the advanced capabilities of 
elaborate multi-file database managers. If your 
needs are relatively simpfe, this deluxe file handler 
is easy to use and has considerable ability. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, two disk drives, 

printer ■"■-'■■." 

BPI Systems, $425 . 

DATA ACE 

The makers of Data Ace have really tried. And 
though they have not always succeeded, they've 
done a darned good job. But. let's take the bad 
news first;. •■' 

The manual makes it clear that the authors 
wanted their instructions to be easily understood 
by the non-technical user. In this they failed. While 
the documentation is enclosed in a sturdy and at- 
tractive loose-leaf binder with handy pockets in- 
side each cover, the high marks end there. The 
information is poorly organized and not presented 
in a logical sequence. Almost as crippling, instead 
of being typeset the pages are reproduced from 
typed copy. There is a grammatical error on. the 
manual's first page. ■ 

Fortunately, the program itself is more than good 
enough to make coping with the manual worth- , 
while. All too many software houses try to bill their 
programs as database management systems when 
they are little more than primitive file managers; 
Not so Computer Software Design. Data Ace is a 
true relational database management program that 
offers facilities for interactvie data definition and a ; 



memory resident data dictionary. It also features a 
data manipulation language that may be used to 
compile or interpret programs. 

Written in FORTH, Data Ace offers a flexibility 
and speed that BASIC programs cannot hope to 
match. Thanks to FORTH's tight coding, all of this 
has been packed onto a single double-sided pro- 
gram disk. Thus, the annoyance of constant disk 
swapping, which handicaps many powerful data- 
base systems, is eliminated. 

One of the most valuable facilities of a relational 
database manager is the ability to compare or 
merge data from different files. This process is il- 
lustrated quite clearly on the demonstration data 
disk that accompanies Dafa -Ace. A file that tracks a 
store's inventory, for example, can be interfaced 
with , one that lists suppliers and vendors. Thus, by 
using both Boolean logic and relational operators, 
the report generator can reveal which vendors are 
the fastest or slowest in shipping, which supply the 
fastest moving items, which offer lower costs,. and 
soon, '■:■;■"■ . 

The search functions are startlingly fast, and be- 
cause the program uses notationals, painfully slow 
sorting procedures are unnecessary; Results of a 
search maybe switched to the printer or screen 
easily at any time. 

At $645, Data Ace will be too expensive for many 
potential users; Others may find they. cannot meet 
the hardware requirements; the IBM PC version re- 
quires at least 128K of memory and two double- 
sided disk drives. And it is not suited to beginners. 
■ Data Ace is a serious package with enough flexi- 
bility and power to satisfy most database needs. 
For those who have some familiarity with program- 
ming techniques and practical experience with an- 
other database, this : system offers valuable 
features. '.;■ = '■■ '■■■-.' 

Requirements: IBM PC, NEC APC, TRS-80, CP/M- 
86, MS-DOS, TRSDOS; 128K RAM, two double- 
sided disk drives ' ■"..■:'■■'■' ■■■.■.'■■'■:■■;■':■■.■■.: . L-: 
Computer Software Design, $645 ' 

DATA DESIGN 

Data Design is a database management system 
with' an interesting extra feature— built-in commu- 
nications software. The Phone communications 
subsystem can be used to transmit and receive in- 
formation between computers, running Data De- 
sign. ■' ■''."'■' 

Data Design, which uses a modified, relational 



44 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



database structure, is able to hold over 32,000 rec- 
ords per file, enough for most applications. Files 
must all fit on one diskette, however, so the actual 
number of records may be more limited. The types 
of information that you want to store (such as 
name, zip code, and sales volume) are set up in a 
table. The number of tables is limited only by avail- 
able disk space. Each table may then have up to 26 
forms, screen formats for data entry or data display 
associated with the table. Each form may have as 
many as 40 fields, each of which is assigned a 
label. Labels are allowed to have up to 8 charac- 
ters, and the field itself may have up to 79 charac- 
ters of alpha information or 16 digits of numeric 
information. 

Any of the data-entry or display fields from a form 
may be assigned the role of a key field. The key 
may then be used to access the information sorted 
• in the table. You are allowed up to 26 keys per 
form. Data Design uses the B-tree method of index- 
ing the keys that you choose. Unlike many data- 
indexing routines, this extremely fast access 
method shows very little degradation of perfor- 
mance as file size grows. Data Design stores infor- 
mation in the order in which it was input, and does 
not offer the ability to sort the data or to merge files 
together. Beause the number of keys allowed is so 
large, this should not be a problem. ■■.'■' 

Password protection is offered in Data Design, if 
the user desires. This is a definite plusfor any busi- 
ness that al lows: several users to access to the com- 
puter, where each user needs to know only certain 
information. The operator must know the password 
to read, edit, or write to any form. ■''■■■■.'■■.■ 
• = The use of the IBM Function keys and the flexibil- 
ity of the forms make the program easy to use. An 
experienced user can even generate form letters 
with this system. Graphics are not supported in 
Data Design. '■■' ....:.> 

' Users of programs like dBASE //that use, a struc- 
tured command language will find surprising 
power available from Data Design's menu selec- 
tions, but some control is definitely lost when you 
must rely on menus rather than a prog ram ming- 
type language. 

J .The •manual is well-illustrated, easy to use, and 
supplied with a tutorial on the selection and use of 
database systems. Five useful example databases 
are provided. A few improvements are in order, 
however. The index could have been more com- 
plete, and the various system parameters should be 



gathered together in a table, rather than spread 
throughout the manual. Some method of estimat- 
ing the number of records, tables, forms, and fields 
that can fit on a disk is also needed. ••.-.' 
Requirements: IBM PC, PC-DOS, 128K RAM, two 
.320K disk drives. ;■-■.: 
lnsoft,$225 ..:... . -. .- 

DATA-WRITER 

Data-Writer is a general purpose data manage- 
ment program for Radio Shack computers. The se- 
ries of programs that comprise Data-Writer is 
written in compiled BASIC. This has two main ef- 
fects from your standpoint: The programs run 
faster than they would under interpreted BASIC, 
but you cannot modify the programs. The Entry 
program is used to create a database. First you 
define the categories for which information is re- 
quired. The abbreviation feature lets you define a 
number of two-letter codes to stand for entire en- 
tries. For example, "TC" means "Telephone call 
with client," and "CA" means "Court Appearance." 
The program automatically saves the abbrevia- 
tions, and it is never again necessary to spell out 
the entire entry. Up to 100 abbreviations are permit- 
ted. Additionally, the abbreviations can be ignored, 
and entries unique to a certain case can be en- 
tered. 

Several programs manipulate the data files cre- 
ated by Data-Writer. The Manage program lets you 
manage and merge data files without manual edit- 
ing. This is very useful if, for example, you've de- 
fined many categories, entered a lot of data, and 
then discovered that you need to change the cate- , 
gories./..: \ ■ ■ '■ .- ■ 

The Stats program searches your data files for 
inconsistencies and tells you where they are so you 
can correct them with the Edit program or your 
word processor. .The Math performs calculations 
on stored data. 

The Select program picks out records that fit 
your criteria. Sort puts the list into alphabetical 
order. Report writes a summary of your records. 

The Letters program lets you create form letters 
into which you can insert stock words and phrases 
from your data files. You might use the Select pro- 
gram to create a file of delinquent accounts, and 
then use Letters to write reminder. notices. .. 

The Labels program lets you generate mailing 
labels from your data files. You could use these to 
send out newsletters or notices. 



Databases 



45 



Data-Writer could be a workhorse in your office, 
and is easier to use than many similar programs. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model 1, 111, or 4, 48K RAM, 
two disk drives, printer 
Software Options, $1 50 



DATAEASE 

DataEase is a computerized filing system to help 
you do record keeping on your IBM PC. It uses a 
relational database management technique to 
keep your records in an easily accessible format. 
The publisher-also publishes WordEase for word 
processing and Graph Ease tor business graphics. 
These programs can be used together as an inte- 
grated package. Several popular spreadsheet pro- 
grams can also use information provided by 
DataEase. ■ 

DataEase allows the creation of an unlimited 
number of forms that work just like everyday paper 
forms; Data is entered after selecting the form that 
you want to use. Once the form is filled in arid 
verified for accuracy, it is entered into the database 
as a record. At any time, you may go back and 
change the data on a form, and it will be automati- 
cally updated in the record. on your diskette. If the 
form itself needs a change, DataEase automatically 
takes care of all of the details for you. When the 
form becomes obsolete, the information may be 
stored in your archives. 

The reporting module of DataEase gives you a 
great deal of flexibility. It will select the format for 
you automatically or let you design your own cus- 
tomized format. The DataEase program also allows 
you to define your own menus, to Use the standard 
menus, or to use both at the same time. You can 
also customize the menus for each user, making it 
possible to differentiate between different classes 
of uses. Although the number of menus that you 
can define is unlimited, the practical limitation is 
40, due to memory limitations' in most systems. 
DataEase does not provide a command language 
in which to record applications that are performed 
frequently. Instead, you must build menus to serve 
this purpose. 

DataEase program allows up to 65,535 records 
per file and up to 255 fields per record. Each record 
may have a maximum of 4,000 bytes, and each field 
can contain up to 255 characters. Field names may 
contain up to 15 characters. Up to 26 independent 
databases can be stored on one disk, using the 



letters A to Z. No other database names are al- 
lowed. One of the types of data that can be defined 
is called a "choice" field, where a multiple-choice- 
type question can be allowed with up to 15 choices, 
information that is entered in the first four fields 
may be used as a key to help retrieve a record or 
put it in a specified order. 

In the IBM version, the Function keys are all de- 
fined to make data input easier. The manual is 
complete except for an index and examples for the 
new user to practice with. Since the publisher is in 
the process of bringing out a new manual, these 
shortcomings may be corrected shortly. A small 
manual also provided gives a quick overview and 
mini-tutorial. Good password protection is pro- 
vided on two levels. Combined with the multiple 
levels of menus, this makes the DataEase package 
a good choice for a business where many people 
need access to the company's data. 
Requirements: CP/M-86 or MS-DOS, 128K RAM, 
two 320K disk drives 
Software Solutions, $595 



DATAFLEX 

Given the large number of database manage- 
ment systems now on the market, it remains sur- 
prisingly difficult to find : one that improves 
significantly on the original d BASE II. Dataplex is 
one that does. 

Dataplex \s a relational database management 
system with independent utilities and a command, 
language—not unlike dBASE II. It uses a muittkey 
indexed sequential access method to find records 
in the database." The indices are structured in mul- 
tilevel "B-trees" to provide very fast, access with 
minimal disk overhead. For a large, complex data- 
base, this Is the most efficient management 
method yet devised, and it is the one most data- 
base managers now use, including dBASE. The in- 
dices are updated automatically each time a record 
is added, deleted, or updated. 

Up to 64,000 records can be stored in one file.. 
Individual records may be up to 4,000 bytes long, 
though this may be reduced when DataFlex is used 
in a computer system with limited program mem- 
ory. The maximum file size is 8 Megabytes. The 8~ 
bit versions i of DataFlex allow up to four indices for 
a file, the 16-bit versions up to nine. : ; : 

Outlining a "form" for on-screen data entry, for 
example, is astonishingly easy: The form can 



46 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



be designed with almost any word processor, 
then transferred to the. prog ram effortlessly. The 
process is even described understandably 
in the DataFlex manual. In dBASE, by contrast, 
this requires a significant programming effort- 
unless the screen generator, ZIP, is used, and 
even that requires too much familiarity with the. 
program.. -. .,-■;■, : , : '-' : 

: ) Another useful feature is automatic record num- 
ber assignment, missing from many database man- 
agers. Unfortunately, this is not well explained in 
the manual. Learning how to use it required a call 
to the company. 

At least one- important feature is missing,- how- 
ever: an equivalent of the dBASE Trim function, 
used to remove blanks from a string. This is essen- 
tial to printing put mailing labels and other such 
forms. 

So far, all this is reasonably standard. What 
makes. Da teF/ex extraordinary is that it is available 
in true multi-user versions. For corporate users, 
this means that highly paid managers are never 
locked out of a record while the clerical staff is 
editing it. Large files cannot be managed effec- 
tively without this division of labor. To get around 
this, many database systems simply refuse to give 
two. users access to a given record at once. All too 
often, -this means that each user makes his own 
copy of the file, changes it, and eventually .claims 
that his is the only valid version. DataFlex may be 
the only . microcomputer database system that 

avoids this hazard..; - 

/DataFlex is not suited to all purposes. It is meant 
as.an applications development system^ not for in- 
teractive use. Thus, when you want information 
from a file, you must use a formal, planned report 
to extract it. There is ho, way to type in a. sponta- 
neous question-— "How many physicians in this 
mailing list live in- New York City? 'V-and get an 
answer. ■._■■.■ ;■-■:■■ ■■■■■■■■■■.■ --.-,-'. .-"r : ..:.!->= ;- ; ; 

And you'd do well to have some experience with 
database managers, before trying DataFlex — 
enough to answer -your own questions. Data Ac-, 
cess Corp. will, help reviewers; ail others are sent 
back to their dealer. If DataFlex were not so very 
good, this practice alone would justify looking 
elsewhere. ./ 

Requirements: GP/M-80, CP/M-86, MP/M-86, MS- 
DOS, TurboDOS, and many other operating sys- 
tems; at least 700K disk space . .■=;■,.. .'■ 
Data Access Corp., $750 .:,.:. 



DATAKEEP 

Datakeep is a database management system de- 
signed to be intergrated with other prog rams*. This 
makes it easy to transfer data to word processing, 
graphics, sorting, statistics, spreadsheet analysis, 
and mailing list packages. Products that can be 
used with Datakeep include Multiplan, 1-2-3, Visi- 
Calc, SuperCalc, MhroStat; FastGraphs, 
Graph 'n'Calc, WordStar, EasyWriter II, PeachText, 
and several others. 

Datakeep holds 32,767; records per data file. All 
records and files must fit on one diskette, so the 
actual number of useable records may be more lim- 
ited. The types of information that you .want. to 
store—such as address, zip code, and product 
codes— are set up in a data file, The number of 
data files is limited to available disk space. If you 
have more records than will fit on one disk, you 
must split your file into smaller ones and manually 
keep track of which file has which information. 
Each data file, may then have up to nine "pages" of 
data; a page is. a data-entry screen. Each data. file 
may have as many as 99 fields, each of which is 
assigned a field.name. Field names may have up to 
8. characters, and the field itself, may contain up to 
70 characters of aipha information or. 16 digits of. 
numeric information. 

Any of the data fields may be used to search or 
sortthe file. However^ if you define indexed fields, 
the search can use the defined key to access your 
information, far more quickly. You are allowed up 
to three keys per data file. Once you have defined 
your keys, Datakeep will establish and maintain the 
indexing system automatically, even when you add 
or delete records. Datakeep stores information: in 
the order in which it was input, and does not offer 
the ability to sort the data, but it does sorting with 
Supersort, from MicroPro international. -.'.-<■■. 

.This program has at least two significant limita- 
tions: Password protection is unavailable; this is an 
important feature that the publisher should add. A 
second feature that should be added for the IBM 
PC version is the ability to use the function keys to 
make data entry easier. 

Datakeep has three levels of interface with the. 
user. The beginner will follow the menus for all 
choices. An intermediate user can catalog a series 
of menu choices to automate simpler functions. In 
addition, like dBASE II, Datakeep has a structured 
command. language in which, an experienced user 
can prog ram a co m plete d atabase system . A : com- 



Databases 



47 



mand file can be set up to save time when the same 
complex application is performed on a regular 
basis. 

The manual is reasonably well written, but could 
be more informative. A primer in the back of the 
manual allows a new user to work through one 
project completely, developing confidence before 
designing custom applications. However, trying to 
find the various technical specifications can be a 
chore. Some method of estimating the number of 
records that can be fit on a disk is needed. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two 320K disk 
drives ; ' ■ 
Mathtech, $450 '; ;:/ : : ;y F ;;; 

DELPHI'S ORACLE 

Delphi's Oracle pronounces itself a "profes- 
sional data base manager" for Commodore, com- 
puters. This doesn't give you a clue about its 
usefulness, however. / 

Database managers are, along with word proces- 
sors 'and spreadsheets, among the most necessary 
microcomputer programs. While no one has yet 
come up with a program format that is comfortable 
and natural to use, Oracle comes close to it. It is 
actually possible, for example, to ferret your way 
through setting up and entering Information. with- 
out constantly consulting the good but wordy man- 
ual. 

Since Oracle treats the storage disk as an exten- 
sion of the computer's memory, the number.of files 
and records is limited only by the capacity of the 
disk. An individual record (single dossier within a 
larger file) can include as many as 99 fields, each 
representing a specific category, and 7,000 charac- 
ters. These records can be searched by asking for 
those that match with the requested information, 
or numerically for amounts less than or greater 
than a requested one, and in other ways as well. 
Like paper file folders, they can be browsed 
through and sorted. Because Oracle stores its "key 
fields" in the computer's memory, files can, be 
sorted extremely quickly. w 

For purposes of security, special codes can be 
assigned to the fields in each record. This means, 
for example, that certain people who must use 
some of the information in a file can also be re- 
stricted from seeing everything in the file. 

The only difficulty in using Oracle is learning to 
use the section of the program that generates re- 
ports, or summaries of information in the files. 



While this is an extremely powerful report genera- 
tor, it is also about as complex as they come and 
requires careful scrutiny of .the. manual and pro- 
vided examples. The ability to perform all four 
arithmetic functions on numeric information jn in- 
dividual records makes this program practical for 
accounting, order entry, and other sophisticated 
functions. 

Finally, Oracle's files can be interchanged with 
those of its sister program, the Paper Clip word 
processor. And, like Paper Clip, the program is pn> 
tected from unauthorized copying by means of an; 
electronic "key" inserted into the computer's joys- 
tick port (a ROM chip in some versions) and will 
not run without it. This means the program can be 
copied and backed up by the purchaser but not 
used by others. - '■■■' ]: .' : ''"':■ ■"- v, j ;v: . . : '::..':■' : ■''"'"■ 
Requirements: Commodore PET 4030, CBM 8032 
Batteries Included, Inc., $150 

dUTIL 

dUtil is the oldest and best known dBASE pro- 
gramming utility. It has some functions in common 
with fastBase, and these have been described in 

that review, V " : '-. : ""'".-. '.'■'' 

- Unlike fastBase, dUtil allows up to nine separate 
command files to be called from within an execut- 
ing command file. This feature speeds up execu- 
tion of large applications with multiple command 

files. . : : . '/".'. ''.'. : ' }> ': l: .'~ :: '-:'. ' ■■:..y.- .'■■[-' :V '. 

You can also store and then call frequently used 
functions, subroutines, and blocks of code in an 
external text file to eliminate repetitive typing. 

A third feature permits you to align and indent, 
with tab stops, any dBASE command line to any 
depth you wish. This is especially useful with IF/. 
ENDIF and -DO/ENDDO sequences. 

Finally, you can store all dBASE: commands in a 
file in lowercase. dUtil will then check and convert 
your dBASE command in your program files to the 
required uppercase. "';■" 

All four functions have various options to make 
their use both flexible and comprehensible, the 
documentation is excel lent for experienced dBASE 
programmers."- '■'■■'/ ""'''■' 

Requirements: CP/M, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS; 
dBASE il '•••••=.--->:- : :------- : 

Fox &Geller, $99 : :':'\"\\ : ..V : : :r . ■ ;_ V' /_ "; ";\ v / " !; : 

ENB '■ 

ENB is a database management system written 



48 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software. 



by Southern Software, a British concern,, and dis- 
tributed in the United States by Allen Geider. Al- 
though it is advertised as a relational database 
system, its data model is actually a network. While 
this distinction involves great complexities of .the- 
ory and programming, its practical significance is 
simple: ENB is quite sophisticated and powerful. It 
is also much harder to use than many database 
management programs. ... 

Most microcomputer "database managers" are 
in fact simple file managers. They let you set up an 
electronic card file, where each index card has a 
fixed format: say, name, address, phone number. 
ENB would use three sets to represent this file, one 
for each item of data. When you create each set, 
you tell ENB how it relates to the others; addresses 
belong to names, for example. When you add a 
name, ENB will prompt you for an address. If you 
didn't think to specify this relationship when you 
defined the database, you could add it later and 
supply addresses for names entered before there-. 
latlonship was added. 

One advantage, here is that disk storage can be 
saved if entities are shared. For example, suppose 
you are storing data about cars, and color is one of 
the things you want to recall. If each car has one of 
20 colors, your set of colors would have 20 mem- 
bers, and car entry would contain a pointer to a 
color, rather than repeating the name of the color; 

ENB helps database users with a menu structure 
that controls database creation, data entry, and re- 
porting. A very nice interactive tutorial is provided, 
and backed up by a manual that is friendly and 
complete. ENB is written in BASIC and assembly 
language, and details are provided for replacing 
the ENB menu system (the BASIC part) with your 
own program that uses the ENB access method 
{the assembly part). This is useful for programmers 
who are developing a turnkey data system and wish 
to shield their customers from the technical details. 

The ENB approach requires more thought and 
insight than file managers. Database design is not 
a simple process, and network databases are noto- . 
riously difficult to lay out. ENB's saving grace is the 
ability to add new sets and relationships, so your 
database can grow as you learn. The disadvantage 
of this is that your database model can eventually 
become a tangled mess of spaghetti. . .-. ..... :.'. '..-.'". 

Requirements: TRS-80, Model I, III, or 4; 48K RAM, 

disk drive' 

Allen Geider Software, $140 



FASTFACTS 

Fast Facts is published by the company that pro- 
duces TIM III, a database management system. 
Fast Facts .is a forms-management system that 
works like a database manager in many ways. The 
basic concept in Fast Facts is the filling out of 
forms; the program takes this one step further, au- 
tomating the filing and searching that normally 
takes up far too much time in most systems. 

You begin the process by setting up a file, the 
same way, that you would normally set up a file 
folder in a paper-based system. Within the file, you 
may store up to 1,000 forms. Each form may in- 
clude up to 50 pages. Each screen, 80 columns: 
wide by 20 rows long, makes up one page. The 
page is then available to enter. items, Each page; 
may have up to 1 00 items, with each item identified 
by an item title from 1 to. 20 characters long. In 
order to accommodate such large files, you will 
probably need a hard disk, but the system will work 
reasonably well with two double-sided disk drives. 

The program is easy to use, and the manual is 
written for. a beginner, A complete example is in- 
cluded, and the forms generated by the system are 
quite nice looking when printed. The PC Function 
keys are fully supported. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
Innovative, Software;- $1 95 '■[ ^ 

FILMAST.R .-...v.;: 

Nearly everyone with a home computer has some 
vague notion about using it to store personal rec- 
ords such as a property inventory, Christmas-card 
mailing list, or a list of magazine articles. Fllmastr 
is ideal for this kind of. simple data management! 
• Fllmastr has few "bells and whistles." It is a 
straightforward database manager of modest ca- 
pabilities. But what it does, it does well. The user 
can store records of up . to 20 fields each. Each 
record can have not more than 255 characters. This 
is sufficient for mailing lists and ^most; inventory 
needs. The user can scroll through the records, 
and can sort by any field or combination of fields 
via an efficient machine-language routine. 

Subgroups can be picked out of a database with 
Filmastr's select function. For instance, the user 
can get a list of every entry for New York, from a 
mailing list. This subgroup can be saved as a sepa- 
rate file. A simple add function will total the num- 
bers in a particular field; This is useful if financial 
data is being stored, The user has much flexibility 



Databases 



49 



in formatting data to be printed and can print out 
all or part of a fiie with or without field headings. 

Filmastr is a boon to cassette users, since few 
good database managers exist on that medium. Of 
course, the disk version is much faster for data 
manipulation, but this makes little difference to the 
average home user. Filmastr is priced well, and it is 
a good introduction to database management. - 
Requirements: TRS-80 Color Computer 
The Computer House, $29.95 cassette; $34.95 disk 

FLEXI FILER -^ 

Database managers have a way of intimidating 
the novice user. Computerware's Flexi Filer is an 
exception; it offers reasonable data-management 
capabilities with easy-to-follow instructions. 

Flexi Filer is menu driven. It displays options on 
the screen from which the user chooses. There are 
five menus in all: the main menu, the define menu, 
the records menu, the reports menu, and the disk^ 
info menu. A handy flowchart in the manual shows 
their relationship to one another. 

The main menu lets you access the other menus 
or leave the program. It appears when the program 
first starts. The define menu lists the options for 
preparing the screen format. The user is asked for 
the information needed to set up a file. (In fact, 
Flexi Filer prompts you throughout its operation.) 
The records menu lets you access an already set 
up file?Youcan add,- delete, update, or just look at 
records from this menu. You can also reorganize 
or expand the file at this point. 

The reports menu lets you set up a print format 
for either a hardcopy of the file or mailing labels. 
This is also where you can sort ..the, data. Flexi Filer 
will print out files up to 132 characters long, and 
132- and 80-column report worksheets are in- 
cluded in the manual to. help in designing formats. 
Mailing labels can be up to five lines long. 
■■■You can sort by any field, or you pari search a file 
for records containing a specific string or pair of 
strings. For instance, the program can print out all 
records with the name field of Jones and the state 
field of New: York. A select file must first be made, 
however, and this uses up disk space. 

The disk-info menu contains several mainte- 
nance utilities. It lets you view the disk directories, 
view only the directory of database files on the 
disks, see how much space is left on the disks, set 
up an autb-start routine for a specific file, or purge 
old filesfrom the disks. 



Flexi Filer can maintain fairly large mailing lists. 
It supports up to four disk drives, enough for sev- 
eral thousand addresses. A home user might use it 
to catalog a stamp or coin collection, and the 
small-businessperson might use it to keep inven- 
tory. Like most state-of-the-art databases, Flexi 
Filer is easily molded to the user's needs. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Color Computer, disk drive 
Computerware/$69.95 ; ;^ : 

FORMULA II 

DMA describes this software package as "The 
Application Creator." it certainly lives up to jts bill- 
ing. FORMULA II is a sophisticated parameter- 
driven database manager designed for use in cre- 
ating complete business-oriented applications 
from simple mailing lists to complex accounting 
systems.?: ■'.':'■'■*■■■'■■■ ■■/;■ : ■.';' i ' : '; : '; : "..""' 

Like the best database; packages, FORMULA II 
allows you to set up files and data input screens, 
enter and edit records, and produce reports. All 
these chores can be accomplished with ease. FOR- 
MULA II also lets you use up to two fields in your 
record as keys. This enables you to order you rfiie, 
or to retrieve, individual records if you are using 
unique keys. To sort your files on other fields, you 
can build index files using any field or combination 
of fields, in any order you wish. 

Quick, ad-hoc reports can be generated using 
FORMULA ll's excellent query language. This al- 
lows you to generate a report to the console, 
printer, or disk, using simple English commands. If 
need be, search criteria can be combined with log- 
ical operators—less than, equal to, and so on. 
These queries can be saved and re-used at will. 
You may include data from up to six different files 
in a single report. "■■■ :: -' i 

If these were FORMULA IPs only features, it 
would be a good database, but it. has. added 
strengths that make it a true application develop- 
ment system.' One 'group of features allow you to 
hide FORMULA //from anyone using the applica- 
tion. These include an "Application Menu System" 
and a run-time system. Users never see FORMULA 
II; to their eyes; they are using a turn-key applica- 
tion. In additional, while FORMULA II does not 
have its own programming language ala d BASE II, 
it does allow you to. write specialized portions of 
the in other languages and links them into the 
dBASEII application. ■■■\ 

One of FORMULA'S most powerfulfeatures is its 



50 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



report generator. Operating like a word processor, 
it allows the designer to generate just about any 
report .that can be imagined. : : 
. ; if all of this were not enough, FORMULA II is also 
available in a true multi-user version, with record- 
lockout. This feature, seldom seen on database 
managers designed for micros, prevents two users 
from trying to access the same record at onetime 
—a necessity in multi-user environments. ,.\ 

FORMULA II does -have several weaknesses, 
however, and any potential purchaser should be 
aware then. Normal data entry is notfujl-screen but 
Jine under line. n Fu|i-screen" data entry can be ac- 
complished using the report generator to' set up a 
report that accepts input from the keyboard. This 
method seems awkward in comparison to products 
that allow you to "paint" the input screens on the 
CRT. Additionally, any system as powerful as this 
one, will require some time to learn. While not as 
difficult as'learning a programming langauge, you 
should expect to,, spend,. several hours going 
through the excellent User-Guide tutorials. Once 
you have done this, the documentation also con- 
tains a reference manual and on-line help assis- 
tance. .J,/:.,-::'--. 

An additional weakness is the inability to do 
mathematical calculation. of fields during data 
entry. This can be circumvented by using the same 
technique as in full-screen data entry. But again, 
this seems awkward. 

. FORMULA II is probably not the best package to 
use to develop simple database applications such 
as address books. There are much easier to use 
packages that will accomplish this without much of 
an investment in learning time or cash. 

if, however, you develop— or. wish to develop— 
for yourself or others—applications more complex 
than mailing lists, this powerful tool belongs on 
your shelf. 

Requirements: CP/M, CP/M-86, MS-DOS, MP/M-il, 
MP/M86-ll,TurboDqs; or two disk drives 
Dynamic Microprocessor Associates, $650 i 

FYI30flO 

,, This ..program.: is an expanded version of FYi's 
Superfile. As with Superfile, \t is an index-card 
database program, designed to deal with text 
rather than numbers., As with Superfile also, the 
program is strictly for indexing your data, not cre- 
ating it This makes it appropriate for indexing let- 
ters, research : notes, bibliographic entries, or 



anything else that you already have stored on disk. 
You can also use your word processor to create 
files specifically for use with FY 1 3000. . 

FY! 3000 allows three different formats. One of 
these is identical to the Superfile format^The entry 
can be as long as you like, with. the key words listed 
separately. The other two formats are limited to a 
maximum of 500 words. In exchange for the limita- 
tion, each word is automatically indexed, so you 
can search your files by any word at all.; You can 
also create an "omit list" so you won't waste file 
space indexing words like "an," "for," "at," or 
"the,"; All three formats allows free entry of text. 
The only difference is in how you designate the 
beginning and end of each record. 

FYI 3000 is partially copy protected. AN the files 
can be copied over to a hard disk so that you can 
take : advantage of the increased speed and disk 
capacity. When you start the program, however, it 
willfirst check the floppy drive to make sure that a 
distribution disk is in the machine, the program 
comes with both a master and backup disk, if you 
ruin a disk, FYI will replace it for $15. : 
■ If you already own Superfile, you can upgrade to 
FYI 3000 for $200, just the difference in list price. 
Be aware, however, that Superfile has some house- 
keeping capabilities (for sorting, splitting, ; and 
merging files) that have been left out of FYI 3000 in 
the interest of simplicity. For those who want these 
features, FYI sells a separate utility package for 
$125... 

Requirements: IBM PC or XT, PC DOS 1.2 or 2.Q, 
128K RAM, two drives recommended ■■'.'.)'■ 
. FYI, Inc., $395 '.,',.;.; 

THE GENERAL MANAGER 

Database. management programs all have one 
main purpose— to store information, in an orga- 
nized manner on a disk or other storage device and 
retrieve it when requested. These programs range 
in complexity from a simple name-and-address fil- 
ing system, to a complex, hierarchically structured 
system containing vast amounts of interrelated irb 
formation. 

The General Manager is one of those systems 
that supports a hierarchical data structure. Rec- 
ords are established and related to one another 
using a simple tree structure. For example, a gene- 
alogical file would have as its "root" the parent's 
name. The "offspring" records would contain 
items such as children's names and birthdates. An- 



Databases 



51 



other level might contain their children's names, 
and so oh. In looking for a record, the database 
searches through successive branches Of this 
"tree" until the correct one is found. ; 

The General Manager is a very powerful pro- 
gram: Up to 16 screens, 31 index keys, 117 data 
disks, and over 16 megabytes of information can 
be stored per database. •/".'. 

In spite of its complexity. The General Manager 
is very easy to set up and use. Using a tree-struc- 
tured, menu-driven format, moving from one op- 
tion to another ' is a breeze. Many operational 
commands take the form of control characters, 
which are ail nicely listed on a handy four-page 
card for easy reference.. .' 

Basically you design a form and fill in the blanks 
with one form or screen established for each level 
of the hierarchy. Each screen has designated keys 
used for sorting and linking each level together. 
Reports are sorted automatically in the order of the 
defined keys, but may. be sorted in a different order 
for printed reports. Fields may be configured to 
accept only certain types of data: fixed length, nu- 
meric oniy, alphabetic only, mixed, variable length, 
date only, telephone number, or whatever. Fields 
can be specified to take information from other 
screens. Numeric quantities, from one or more 
screens can be processed using a variety of mathe- 
matical and logical operations. . 
: - The ability to reorganize the database at any time 
is a powerful feature. Fields can be added, deleted, 
or changed, with the program doing all the house- 
keeping. The reporting function allows formatting 
the output of data to be displayed on screen, 
printed, or written to disk as a text file. Reports can 
include totals, subtotals, and record counts. 

An added : feature called User Programs- is in- 
cluded to allow you to wri\e Applesoft programs 
that can use database information in a way that The 
General Manager can't. By. using the ampersand 
{&) function, over 30 new commands are available 
that allow specific application programs to be writ- 
ten. A sample invoice program is included with the 
package that can sum information across all the 
records of a screen (invoice) which are children of 
a specified parent (customer). Another program 
could take this information and post it to a receiv- 
ables screen. 

Other features include support of up to four 
floppy disks, 8-inch and high-density 5 1 /4-inch 
drives, plus a variety of hard disks. If you have a 



16K RAM card and lowercase chip, the program 
will make use of them. The One-wire Shift-key mod- 
ification and all of the Apple lie's features, includ- 
ing the Apple 80-column board, are supported. 

An extensive, 180-page manual comes with the 
system. It contains a section called the "Mini-Man- 
ager," which Is designed to familiarize you with the 
basics of the program in a short time. 
Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
or lie, 48K RAM, disk drive • : . 
Sierra On-Line, $229.95 

INFOSTAR 

-InfoStar is not a database manager. Neither is it 
a file handler, though it has some of the character- 
istics of both. InfoStar is an information manage- 
ment system' consisting of DataStar, a screen 
manager, 'Rep ortStar, a report generator, and 
SuperSort, a sort/merge system. The combination 
of the three products is more than the sum of its 

parts. "" "',''■■' '■'."■"' ■ 

DataStar was originally meant to speed con- 
struction of elaborate data entry screens and to 
store information entered on them into disk files. 
The data entry screens (called forms) can be up to 
255 columns wide and 255 lines wide, with both 
horizontal arid vertical, scrolling, depending on 
available memory. A form this size is much larger 
than is really practical.. 

DataStar actually consists of two programs; 
FORMGEN is i used, to define the form, and Data- 
Star is used to enter information into your form and 
disk file. Extensive help menus are used in both 
creation and use of a form, and many Of the con- 
trol-key functions are identical to those of Word- 
Star, making the learning process much easier for 
users of the popular word processor. 

DataStar permits multiple-key fields and requires 
at least one. The documentation suggests that the 
number of keys be kept to a. minimum, as perfor- 
mance of DataStar slows as key size and the num- 
ber of keys increase. As the InfoStar system 
includes SuperSort, an extremely fast sorting pro- 
gram, this should not be a problem. 

DataStar also permits extensive error- and 
range-checking during data entry, and you may 
perform extensive calculation on and between 
fields. 

Where DataStar goes far beyond file handlers is 
its ability to pull information from other files into 
your current form. The documentation calls this 



52 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



process "File Derived Data Fields"; it can be used 
for such tasks as pulling a customer's name and 
address into your form when their account number 
is entered. 

The other major component of InfoStar is 
ReportStar, a relational report generator capable 
of combining information from several data files 
into a single report. It can read DataStar files or 
other ASCII text files maintained in CBASIC format. 
ReportStar can be used at either of two levels. The 
Quick Report program will build a simple list-type 
report with just a few minutes', work. Much more 
complex reports can be generated by constructing 
a "Report Specification File." ReportStar reports 
can be printed on the printer or screen, or they can 
be "printed" onto- a disk file and edited with 
WordStar or included in WordStar documents. As 
with DataStar (and all MicroPro products) exten- 
sive help menus and a common control-key format 
greatly simplify learning and using the package. 

The documentation also eases the task of getting 
this powerful system up and running. MicroPro has 
the reputation of supplying extremely poor. docu- 
mentation. This is not the case with InfoStar. The 
software is accompanied by three excellent man- 
uals. The DataStar manual contains both a training 
guide and reference guide. ReportStar is sup- 
ported a reference manual and a separate tutorial 
training guide. SuperSort has been renamed 
FORMSORT and is covered in the ReportStar man- 
uals. Both components are also equipped with sep- 
arate command-summary reference cards. 

InfoStar is an excellent information management 
system, which is both, powerful and relatively easy 
to use. It offers significant advantages over most 
file handlers, yet can, at its simplest level, be used 
as one. InfoStar +, the newest version, includes 
StarBurst, a menu-management system that allows 
creation of turn-key applications. InfoStar also of- 
fers the benefit of easily Integrating with other 
MicroPro products, such as WordStar and Calc- 
Star. MicroPro has had great success with their 
word processor, WordStar, They deserve similar 
success with InfoStar. ■■■'■■. 
Requirements: CP/M or MP/M.il 48K RAM; IBM PC, 
64K RAM; disk drive, printer 

MicroPro International, InfoStar $495; InfoStar + : 
$595 . 

KEYSTROKE 

Keystroke is an easy-to-use database-manage- 



ment package and, report generator designed for 
the Apple IN, The program is menu driven; you use 
an Arrow key to select the function you need and 
simply hit the Return key. 

To set up forms you type in a field description 
followed by a colon, and the desired field length. 
Keystroke provides several predefined formats, in- 
cluding date, phone, social security number, deci- 
mal and dollar, which simplify data entry. For even 
greater specificity, you can describe your own 
input format (either alphanumeric, integer, or float- 
ing point). You can enter data directly on the key- 
board, derive . it from a defined mathematical 
relationship between two other fields, repeat it 
from a previous record, or increment it. Any prede- 
fined field may be overwritten., ■■: 

The program also supports macros, which are 
multiple, keystroke or word commands that can be 
defined as a single keystroke. These can be saved 
and recalled as needed. Using a feature called The 
Hand, you can grab a line of data on the screen and 
reposition it elsewhere without retyping. Sort and 
search operations work in all fields and can be de- 
fined when a file is created or later. 

Of course, a database is worthless unless you 
can get a customized printout. Keystroke bills itself 
as a "report generator" because it excels in this 
area. Report formats can be set up at print time, or 
they may be predefined and included as a print 
specification. Print specifications can include 
sorted fields, break points, subtotals, totals, and so 
on, just about everything you would need for a 
professional-looking report- 
Requirements: Apple. Ill, 256K RAM, two disk 
drives ....■■• 

Brock Software Products, Database $249; Report 
Generator $149 

KNOWLEDGEMAN 

KnowledgeMan is a relational database, one that 
offers great power but requires some compro- 
mises. For complicated inquiries, there are not 
many database systems that can match it. In ex- 
change, however, KnowledgeMan is more complex 
to use than many databases, and it often works 
slowly, 

A relational database stores its information in ta- 
bles, much like a spreadsheet program, in a file of 
addresses and telephone numbe/s, for example, 
street addresses might occupy one column of the 
table, Zip codes another, and telephone numbers 



Databases 



53 



yet a third. Each record of name, address, and 
phone number would fill one row of the table. In a 
complex database, It may take several tables to 
store the data efficiently. 

The special power of a relational database man- 
ager, compared with other types, is that it does not 
have to be told when you set up the database just 
what information you will want later; inquiries can 
be made up as needed. The special power of 
KnowledgeMan is that it can pull data from an un- 
limited number of tables. 

In a factory, for example, you might use three 
tables: one listing the components of a product, 
the second an inventory count of all parts, and the 
third a table of suppliers and the parts they manu- 
facture. To make sure you had enough parts to 
make 1 00 of your product, you would find the parts 
needed from the first table, check the inventory in 
the second, and perhaps locate the supplier in the 
third. A relational system answers inquiries by cre- 
ating a "virtual" table from parts of the permanent 
ones. KnowledgeMan can do it without limit. 

Everything in life has trade-offs, and the usual 
price for power in a program is complexity. With 
KnowledgeMan, you build and query tables via a 
command language similar to IBM's Structured 
Query Language/Data System. There are surpris- 
ingly few commands— only four to extract data — 
but entire statements tend to become very long, 
particularly when there are many selection criteria. 
Speed is another price. Because data is stored in 
more than one table, digging it out requires an 
enormous amount of disk access. Don't hold your 
breath waiting for output unless you are working 
with a large disk emulator. KnowledgeMan is pri- 
marily a DBMS but, it has an excellent screen/ 
forms management system which allows customs 
systems for sophisticated data management and 
inquiry. If you have complex data requirements and 
are willing to spend the learning time, 
KnowledgeMan is an investment that will pay off. 
Requirements: IBM PC, MS-DOS, or CP/M-86, 
1 92K RAM, 500K disk storage ' . 
Micro Data Base Systems, $500 

MAG/BASE 3 

MAG/base z is an interesting package, almost a 
database management system and almost an appli- 
cation development system. It has many nice fea- 
tures and capabilities, yet the version reviewed, 
3.2A, was missing several significant features. 



MAG/base 3 allows you to define files, enter data 
into them, and retrieve information and generate 
reports from your files. It contains a report writer 
module, which permits you to design almost any 
report you desire. In addition, the MAG/SAM ac- 
cess method allows you to set up an extensive key- 
indexing system if required; it can be used outside 
of the MAG/base package in your own programs. 
There is even a data management language (DML), 
which provides a relatively simple interface be- 
tween a user-written program and MAG/base files. 
Add to these features MAG/base's menu manage- 
ment and password facilities, and you have the 
basics of an outstanding package. 

This nice start falters, however, through the 
omission of two significant features. The first is a 
true relational ability between files. While the re- 
port writer allows you to include data from up to 
five files in a report, there is no way to pull infor- 
mation from one file into another. Complex appli- 
cations often make extensive use of this feature. 

An example of this can be found in most ac- 
counting applications. When entering an account 
number, you would probably wish immediately to 
check an account list to verify that the account is a 
valid one. This can be done as a separate opera- 
tion, using the report writer, but this type of range 
checking is most effective when done at the time 
the data is input. 

The second major flaw in MAG/base is the lack of 
any way to update a record from the result of a 
calculation of another record. This "posting" fea- 
ture is also frequently needed by more complex 
applications. If you wished to maintain a transac- 
tion file and use it to update information contained 
in a "master" file — such as updating an accounts 
receivable balance forward with current charges 
and payments— you would be unable to accom- 
plish this with MAG/base. . . ■■ ' 

The people at MAG seem to be aware of these 
problems. They claim that these features have been 
added to version 4, which they are now shipping. If 
so, it would make the MAG/base system a truly su- 
perior product. As things stand now, it cannot be 
recommended for anything more complex than 
simple file management. 

Requirements: MS-DOS, 128K RAM; two disk 
drives, printer 
MAG Software, $790 



54 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



MAGIC MEMORY 

Magic Memory bills itself as an "electronic ad- 
dress book," which is an accurate description. It's 
a no-frilis database-management system best 
suited for simple tasks— listing phone numbers, 
birthdays, and the. like. It's even set up to look like 
an address book, with '24 predefined tabs (A 
through W, and XYZ) in a row along the right side 
of the screen. You can also create your own tabs, 
with a maximum of three letters for separate lists. 
'■■ But don't expect much versatility from this pro- 
gram. Magic Memory has room for only nine lines 
per entry. And it doesn't have field headings, so 
you'll have to remember' what category you have 
been entering on each line if you want to achieve 
overall consistency. Magic Memory has no search 
facilities, and it performs no mathematical manipu- 
lations. It does, however, alphabetize by first or last 
names within tab settings. But if you put, say, John 
Jones in the tab G, the system will merely put the 
entry at the end of that tab, instead of transferring 
it correctly to the Js. . ■■./" 

Entering text is simple; so is transferring entries 
to other tabs. ! You put the text into a buffer and 
move it where you want it to go. The print subsys- 
tem, allows you to create numerous printout for- 
mats of either single tabs or the entire file. It's an 
elementary system that won't perform business-, 
sized tasks, but it will allow you to throw out that 
tattered old address book you've been saving all 
these years. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, one disk drive 
Artsci, $99.95 



THE MINI FACTORY; THE DATA 
FACTORY 

the Mini Factory and The Data Factory are data- 
base-management programs that run on most 
Apple computers. The two perform all the same 
tasks, though the latter includes a number of pow- 
erful options not found in -the Mini program. Al- 
though both require only one drive, without a 
second drive many of the programs' most powerful 
features become needlessly time-consuming. 

In The Data Factory, information can be entered 
In either the standard- or the custom-format mode, 
which lets you place data anywhere on the display. . 
in either mode, each record may hold up to 88 
fields. In a typical seven-field file, the system wiN 
hold about 700 records. 



The Data Factory's utility disk allows you to enter 
data in several ways; sort up to four fields at once 
alphabetically, numerically, or by date; transfer 
files; and inspect, search for, and enter data. The 
report disk has a list/report function to let you view 
your files, two search modules, an extensive math 
module, and other routines/ 

Most functions can be performed in many ways 
using different modules: To enter data; for in- 
stance, you can use the standard data-entry mode 
or the custom-entry mode, which allows for special 
placements of data, constants, and internal notes. 
To change data, you can use inspect/change, up- 
date, or replace modules. Similarly, you can use 
the inspect/change, list, search, master-search, 
and index modules for review and search opera- 
tions. The program provides numerous math func- 
tions. Along with the conventional addition, 
subtraction, multiplication, and division, it per- 
forms trigonometric, algebraic, and geometric, and 
other functions. These, like all the programs' fea- 
tures, can simultaneously manipulate data from 
several fields.. .. ■ - . 

Some drawbacks: In the. data : entry modes, you 
can't add or delete space, so you may have. to re- 
type text to make corrections in the middle of a 
sentence. Also, the system will sometimes stop .for 
several seconds in the middle of receiving data to 
"clear its memory." Unfortunately, it gives no 
warning when this is happening, so if you're not 
staring at the screen, you may continue entering 
data needlessly. • 

The Mini Factory provides fewer of the same fea- 
tures. It lacks the custom-entry, custom-output, 
and master-search routines, and it performs only 
seven arithmetic functions, eschewing the more 
esoteric mathematic capabilities of The Data Fac- 
tory. This, however, is certainly sufficient for most 
applications. And if it does not meet your needs, 
you can trade in your Mini Factory diskettes at your 
dealer's and get the more sophisticated Data Fac- 
tory for the difference in cost between the two soft- 
ware packages. 

The weakest link of both programs is the docu- 
mentation. The manuals often make relatively sim- 
ple operations sound needlessly complex, and 
neither has an index. Furthermore, the manuals 
don't always match the onscreen displays, and 
there are occasional nomenclature problems as 
well. "■■■■■.-.■■.. 

Despite a few limitations, both "factories" are 



Databases 



55 



powerful database programs, and with two disk 
drives, they can be speedy as well. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie (Data Factory 
only); one disk drive 
Microlab, Mini Factory $150; Data Factory $300 

MINI-JINK 

Mini-Jim \s a database manager for the Commo- 
dore 64 and VIC-20. Its name comes from a prede- 
cessor, Jinsam, one of the most popular database 
programs for the Commodore PET and CBM com- 
puters. Mini-J'mi is not so much an abridged ver- 
sion of Jinsam as a new program with some of its 
capability. 

It is packaged as a ROM cartridge containing the 
actual operating code. The databases themselves 
are stored as either disk or tape files. Like most 
database managers, Mini-Jini organizes informa- 
tion by files and, within these, individual records 
comprised of several fields of data. It will search 
files, sort records, and manipulate numeric infor- 
mation in fields. : 

On the Commodore 64 with a disk drive, Mini-Jini 
will store up to 500 records about 45 characters 
long or 250 of 100 characters. The VIC-20 version 
has the same capacity as the 64 when a 24K RAM 
expansion is used, but only 50 short records can 
be stored without extra memory. Although the pro- 
gram claims to work with a Commodore 1525E 
printer and a "wide range" of other ASCII printers 
connected to the VIC serialbus, there is no indica- 
tion which will or will not work properly. 

This is a menu-driven database that is easy to. 
operate, even without looking at the documenta- 
tion, in just about every way but printing labels and 
files— these require some explanation. This ease of 
use probably better reflects the simplicity of the 
program more than its quality. You do not have the 
flexibility of other/more powerful database man- 
agers for Commodore machines like Delphi's Ora- 
cle. Screens are simple lists and cannot be 
formatted other than to define and label the con- 
tents of afield. :l 

Either the program requires better error trap- 
ping, or there are some bugs to cope with; pressing' 
the Restore key by mistake sent the program into a 
terminal fit. And the cartridge appears to contain a 
BASIC program rather than faster, machine-lan- 
guage routines. However, this could be a valuable 
information management system for simple files. 
Jini Micro Systems, the program's publisher, also 



distributes ready-made databases for home appli- 
cations, included in this package are approxi- 
mately 50 files for amateur radio operation, comic 
book collection, checkbook balancing, real estate 
management, recipe lists, and'so on. " :; 
Requirements: Commodore 64, VIC-20 
Jini Micro Systems, Commodore 64 and VIC-20 car- 
tridge $89.95; Commodore 64 database disk 
$14.95; cassette $9.95 

NEXTSTEP 

Although it does not have the powerand flexibil- 
ity of a true relational-database manager. Next 
Step is an easy-to-use file-management system, 
well suited for anyone who is not experienced. in 
microcomputer use. '■'- 

Actually, Next Step is a program generator that 
writes database programs in Micro Soft BASIC in 
accordance with the instructions. supplied by the 
user. If this sounds complicated, it isn't. The man- 
ual is nicely done, and leads the first-time. user 
carefully through the" program's operating proce- 
dures. ■ -'-■■ : '- 

The first task in creating and using a new data- 
base is designing the screen format for the entry of 
data. Next Step makes this easy by allowing you to 
"paint" your blank form on the screen. You may 
specify up to 99 different fields per record, but.no 
single field may contain more than 78 characters; ' : 

Next Step provides such conveniences as date 
or time fields that will automatically enter the cur- 
rent system date or time when you make a new 
entry. You can also define calculation fields that 
will automatically display calculations based on 
other fields. Sales tax, for example, can be set as 
the result of selling price times tax rate. Setting up 
such formats will obviously require some advance 
planning. . y- : ■■■■'■■. ■:--"\-} ! .~-'\\- 

Once you have it just the way you want it, Next 
Step writes a new BASIC program especially for 
your database. From that point, you may enter or 
delete data, search for data, and perform : mathe- 
matical calculations on the numerical entries in 
your records. '' : ' : .' : ' : " : .' :: " " ' 

Report generation works pretty much the same 
way as the file management system. You Xe\\ Next 
Step how you would like your reports to be laid out, 
and it proceeds to write BASIC programs to accom- 
odate your needs. During the report-formatting 
procedure, you will be asked to define key fields 
just as you did when you created the database for- 



56 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



mat This is an important procedure if maximum 
flexibility is desired. The relationship of the key 
fields to your report needs may be a bit difficult to 
grasp at first, but Next Step's ability to print reports 
on the screen as well as on paper makes experi- 
menting easy. ::'■■■'•■?' 

Next Step does suffer from the same slowness 
that marks most file-management systems written 
in interpreted BASIC. If your files are small, say a 
few hundred records, you probably won't notice. 
Sorting large files, though, can take 20 or 30 min- 
utes or longer. This is not too long for some pur- 
poses, but may be unacceptable to a business 
owner who never has enough time to wait around 
for reports. : 

The manual does give instructions on how to 
compile Next Step's programs, but even compiled 
BASIC leaves something to be desired when it 
comes to speed. On the plus side is the fact that 
anyone experienced in programming BASIC can 
modify the programs to fine-tune them even closer 
to specialized requirements, :-:.■; .. 

If super fast results are not especially important 
to you, Next Step offers a powerful and flexible way 
to manage small databases. 

; Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
Execuware, $345 

npl./":';- v -- ; VV 

A/PL, an acronym for Non Procedural Language, 
is a database-management package for the Apple 
■III, .It wili organize data and guide you in generating 
customized reports. Commands are logically 
named and easy to remember. 

NPL has three levels: The Apple Pascal Operat- 
ing System, the Command mode, and the Report 
mode. Upon booting, you are inPascai. To enter the 
Command mode, you press the X key and respond 
/NPL/NPL when you see the Execute What File: 
prompt. You construct data files by using the Cre- 
ate. command. This loads a data-creation program 
with four basic prompts. These are: Fieldname, a 
12-character-maximum : description; Alias, a 9- 
character shorthand label of the field; Printing For- 
mat, a letter designating the field as alphanumeric, 
integer, or floating point, and a number indicating 
field length or decimal places; and File Format, 
generally the same as the printing format. 

After you have created the file, you can retrieve it 
using the Getfile command, and add data in a vari- , 
ety of ways. NPL will produce straight-line entry 



prompts using your field names as input guides, or 
you can redesign the input format to your specifi- 
cations.-. 

Data handling is easy as is generating printouts 
in the Report mode. Output can be routed to either 
the screen or the printer. And NPL performs multi- 
ple-field, sorts at report time. As with TVPL's other 
functions, printout formats are established using 
English-based commands. You can align data in 
columns by typing Print but entering no param- 
eters, or you can structure your output with the 
OVER command. You can even define a print spec- 
ification that contains a formula for deriving fields 
from other fields. And you can save all specifica- 
tions and formats in an AUTO EXEC file for later 
retrieval. '■.-■.'.■■.■■■■:.''■■ 

Requirements: Apple III, 256K RAM, two disk 
drives ■■■'■,■'■'■'• :.':.-':■.■;,■■'■. 
DeskTop Software Corp., $950 ., 

PASCAL DATA BASE SYSTEM 

The Pascal Data Base System, by Tom Swan, is a 
complete relational database system implemented 
in UCSD Pascal for the p-System, It was tested in 
versions running in Apple Pascal on the Apple-ll/ 
lie, and in p-System version N on the IBM PC/XT 
and on the Sage IV computer. 

The key concept of the PDBS system is that it is 
available in complete source-program form as a 
book sold at book prices in your/friendly local book 
store. For less than $100, the publishers will. deliver 
you a copy of the software on diskette, thus-saving 
hours of typing from the book. 

As a relational database package, the standard 
set of 28 programs and four library units provides a 
foundation. All file operations are built around 
fields; all specialized setup files and general data 
files can be edited by the system's editor. The rela- 
tional operations of "project" and "join" are imple- 
mented completely, unlike several so-called 
relational database packages that have been mar- 
keted widely for personal, computers in recent 
years. Two different varieties of sorting are pro- 
vided, as well as numerous utility programs. 

In six months of use to date, the program has 
formed the basis of two different invoice/statement 
billing systems, a central filing place for business 
contacts, and several directories of companies and 
products. Any Pascal-knowledgeable personal 
computer user can easily build numerous special- 
ized programs/given the ample and copiously doc- 



Databases 



57 



umented source programs in the system as it is 

delivered. •>.,:•• 

Requirements: p-System version IV ..■■' 

Hayden Books, $79.95 



PC-FILE 

\ PC-File is an easy-to-use data manager for the 
IBM PC. It also is the least expensive data manager: 
It can be copied forfree from anyone who has it 
already. If you decide you like the program, send 
Jim Button a $35 donation. If you want to just order 
a copy, you should include payment with the re- 
quest. 

- PC-File fits a definite niche in the world of file- 
management software, its design places simplicity 
ahead of power and sophistication. It can be. used 
by almost anyone with very little training. It is 
menu-driven, and the on-line documentation file 
hardly needs to be read before you use PC-File for 
the first time. 

This trade-off of power in favor of simplicity 
means, you will probably want to use PC-File for 
small databases.. A record can have up to 41 fields. 
With up to 21 fields, each can be 65 characters 
long; with more fields, they, are limited to 25 char- 
acters. One field may be designated as the key, and 
searches on this field will proceed very rapidly. 
Searches can be performed on any field, and the 
search criteria can include combinations of equal, 
not equal, greater than, and less than conditions. ,. 

In theory, you can put up to 4,000 records in a 
database. However, they must all fit on a single 
diskette, and you can sort the database only if it 
will fit in memory. '■'=■ ■■.■■";■.; 

The reporting facility, is also simple and easy-to- 
use. You can list the entire database in a report, or 
just selected records. Any subset of the items in 
each record can be listed on one or multiple lines 
in the report. Numeric fields may be totalled. 

Utilities are provided to export data to VisiCalc, 
Multiplan, Lotus 1-2-3, and MicroPro's MailMerge 
program. A portion of a database can be "cloned" 
intoa new database. The ten keys from Alt-0 to Alt- 
9 can be programmed to contain a keystroke se- 
quence, so you can execute a command or; series 
of commands with a single key. . r 

You can buy a more powerful, database manage- 
ment system, but PC-File will handle many chores 
in a straightforward manner. It is also faster. than 
many more expensive systems, since its design ex- 



ploits the limited . database size, it is definitely 
worth your time to take a look at this program. ... 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, one disk drive; 
96K for DOS 2.00 ....... ..,\ 

Jim Button, $35 

PERSONAL PEARL 

Data management systems are some of the most 
popular microcomputer software packages. This is 
not really suprising. considering that many of. the 
activities we perform at work and at home consist 
of saving, retrieving, and manipulating informa- 
tion. /■.: --. .- ,.■:'•■ ; ./ : ':-.:-; ; -' 

Software products range from simple, file han- 
dlers to complex application development systems. 
Capabilities vary, generally in direct proportion to 
price, and no one expects to find a high-powered 
package at less than $300 Yet Personal Pearl is as 
capable as many of its costly relatives. It is also 
much easier to learn and use than many of them. , ■<■ 

On its simplest level, Personal Pearl can be used 
as a file handler. Files are defined. by "painting" a 
data input form on the screen. These forms can be 
up to three screens long, depending on the com- 
puter and operating system you use. By answering 
a few questions, you can define any oral! fields in 
your form. as "index" fields, to save time during 
production of reports. 

Reports are defined in a similar manner, by 
"painting" them on the screen, a simple process. 
Pearl's "Service Menu" offersfourchoic.es: Design 
Forms, Design Reports, Enter Data, : and Produce 
Reports. if this were all that Personal Pearl could 
do, it would be a nice product, but nothing special. 
However, there is much more. 

Personal Pearl is also a relational database. 
These relational features allow data from one data- 
base to be used by, or in, another. In the MS-DOS 
version, data from up to ten different databases 
can be used in one form or report. •:■,.' 

Imagine, for example, that we have an input form 
for use in billing customers. We can set up the form 
so that when we key in a. customer's name, Pearl 
will go to a second database of names and ad- 
dresses, and put the customer's address into the 
form we have on the screen. Further down on the 
form, we can have Pearl go to a third database and 
fill in the description and price of the item ordered 
when we, key in its number. All of this information 
will be saved when we are finished using the form. 

Pearl, also provides the advanced user with 



58 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



masks, interfaces to SuperCalc and word proces- 
sors, and the ability to construct and use formulae 
in your input forms and reports. 

Personal Pearl comes with a three-part manual. 
An "Easy Tutorial" gets you started; then an "Ad- 
vanced Topics Tutorial" teaches you how to use 
such advanced features as multiple database 
forms. There is also a '-Reference Manual" to re- 
fresh your memory, 

Pearlsoft also provides a "Welcome" disk, which 
gives a short on-screen tutorial on the screen, a 
"File Maintenance" disk, which can help to restore 
Pearl files damaged through power or equipment 
failure, arid a "Starter Library" of Personal Pearl 
forms, including an appointment calendar, a cash 
journal; and several others. ■ 

In return for all this, Personal Pearl has surpris- 
ingly few defects. It does, lack the kind of ad-hoc 
query language that allows casual interrogation of 
the database, but this is partially offset by the ease 
of creating anew report form. And it "Is somewhat 
more complex to set up than some programs; the 
installation program is long and makes it slightly 
difficult to correct errors. 

In the end, however, these small flaws are well 
Worth accepting. Personal Pearl is easy to use, 
easy to learn, and enormously capable. For the 
price, it represents an excellent value. 
Requirements: CP/M-80, 52K RAM; CP/M-86, MS- 
DOS, PC-DOS, 126K RAM; two disk drives or hard 
disk : ^ -='. : :"'■■■■"■' ■■.■'■■■.;■.. '■ 

Pearlsoft/Relationai Systems International, $295 

PFS:REPORT 

pfs:report takes files created by pfs:file and al- 
lows you to generate reports. Like the other pro- 
grams in thepfe series, pfs.report is extremely easy 
to use; most file and report specifications are han- 
dled for you. It also does a nice job of formatting. 
Centering, page numbering, and the like are all 
done automatically. However, the price for ease of 
use is function and flexibility. Users familiar with 
other data management systems will quickly dis- 
cover many limitations. V 

The main menu of pfs:report allows you to spec- 
ify the file to work with. The next screen is the form 
you specified when creating the database. This "re- 
trieval" screen operates almost identically to the 
pfs:file print function. You may select records that 
give an exact or partial match for a keyword, those 
that fail into a numeric range, and records that are 



"not equal" to a criterion. These are keyed next to 
the item names on the screen form. The next 
screen allows basic options including lines per 
page, output device (printer, communications line, 
screen, or diskette), and use of previously stored" 
report format. 

The last screen, also employing the form, is 
where you describe the report format. Up to 16 
items may be listed on your report, with sorting on 
two fields. Numeric fields may be totaled, aver- 
aged, and counted, pfs.report does a nice job of 
centering the report, adding broken lines before 
and after totals. It also allows derived numeric 
fields — one numeric field multiplied, added, sub- 
tracted, or divided by another. Ah interesting func- 
tion lists records by keywords that have been 
inserted into a special field. 

The limitations of pfsireport may not be critical if 
you have small and simple files — the type for which 
you would use, pfstfile. But they are real. Sort fields 
must appear as columns one and two. pfsireport 
requires two disk drives to sort a file of only 250 
records. The second drive was used for a work file. 
Although you can store the report formats, you 
cannot store retrieval specifications and must 
therefore re-key those items each time. ; 

pfsreport is a high-quality, easy-to-use addition 
to pfs:file. If you are happy with the database sys- 
tem, you will like the report generator as well. • 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , He, or III, 48K RAM; 
IBM PC, 64K RAM; one disk drive 
Software.Publishing Corp., $149 V- 



PRO-COLOR-FILE 

The best database-management programs are 
limited only by the machines on which they are 
used. Pro-Color-File is such a program. It uses all 
of the Color Computer's considerable abilities, and 
it rivals similar programs costing much more. 

Pro-Color-File > can access up to four disk drives, 
the most that a Color Computer can support. The 
four data-entry screens use color, increasing the 
ease with which the User can input data. Most data- 
base managers cringe when more than one field 
must be sorted at once; Pro-Color-File can sort up 
to three fields at the same time. 

Capacity is another plus. Each record can con- 
tain up to 60 fields, with a maximum character 
count of 1,020 for each, record. Any field can be 
sorted, and file size does not restrict sort capacity. 



Databases 



59 



With multiple disk drives, Pro-Color-File can han- 
dle a huge amount of data. 

Numbers are no problem, either. Pro-Color-File 
allows 28 user-defined equations including all 
mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, 
multiplying, and dividing. In fact, the number- 
crunching capabilities of Pro-Color-File put it in an 
exclusive cfub among database programs for the 
Color Computer; it is a rare feature. ' 

Pro-Color-File is compatible with nearly every 
popular printer. There are eight printout, or report, 
formats. The user can give each printout page a 
title, a number, or both. Line width and number of 
lines per page are also chosen by the user. 

The manual is large, and it does a good job of 
leading the user through the program step-by-step. 
However, because of its sophistication, a novice 
will probably have trouble learning Pro^Coior-FHe. 

This program will satisfy many small-business 
needs.. It is well suited to handle financial data be- 
cause of its math capabilities. With the Color Com- 
puter and Pro-Color-File, a powerful data- 
management system can be had for a very low 
price. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Color Computer, disk drive. 
Derringer Software, $79.95 

PROFILE 111 + 

• For moderate-sized files, Profile 111+ is an effi- 
cient and easy-to-use database manager. Once you 
format a disk for a particular task, you can expect 
hassle-free data entry and retrieval. 

Profile 111+ comes on two disks. One is the run- 
time disk, which the user backs up to produce a 
working disk; the other is. the creation disk. The 
creation disk contains the setup routines that let 
you configure the working disk to the format you 
require. You can make unlimited backups of the 
run-time and creation disks, but the creation 
backup will not work; its only purpose is to be 
copied back to the original disk should that fail. 

File setup is easier than one would gather from 
the manual, which is not well organized. Most of 
the prompts are self-explanatory, and the setup 
screens give you an accurate impression, of what 
the finished form will look like. An inexperienced 
user could have a Profile disk set up in just an hour 
or two, including the time needed to go through 
the manual. Once you are familiar with the setup 
procedure, you • can set up a disk in 15 or 20 min- 
utes. 



Once set up, Profile 111+ is very easy to use. Any- 
one who can use a typewriter can be taught how to 
enter and retrieve data in a few minutes. The only 
confusing aspect is the use of the ENTER and 
CLEAR keys. Sometimes you must press ENTER to 
store data, and other times you must use the 
CLEAR key. Pressing the BREAK key twice to abort 
any operation is good protection from an acciden- 
tal touch of the BREAK key. 

Profile 111+ can support up to four disk drives, 
and at this capacity it can store 2,000 records of 
255 characters each. This is sufficient for many 
routine office chores, small mailing lists, or almost 
any home application. You can increase the num- 
ber of characters per record to 1,020, but this re^ 
duces the maximum number of records available. 

You can sort any field of a Profile 111+ file and do 
simultaneous sorts of multiple files. Profile iil+ 
sorts in memory and does so relatively quickly. But- 
because the sort is done within the computer's 
memory, a large file might have to be broken up to 
be sorted. This is the price paid for speed. 

Profile 111+ also supports math formulas. You 
can add, subtract, multiply, or divide data in partic- 
ular fields. This is handy if financial data is being 
stored. 

:'. The Small Computer Company (230 41st Street, 
Suite 1200, New York, NY 10036) developed Profile 
111+ for Radio Shack, and they currently market 
several enhancement packages for this product. 
Prosort increases the sorting capabilities, Forms 
improves the form-printing functions, Archive lets 
the user manipulate files easier, and Propack is a 
customizing tool for BASIC programmers. These 
add-ons cost from $75 to $150 each. 

Profile 111+ is an unintimidating database man- 
ager with many valuable features. It is versatile 
enough for the hobbyist and businessperson alike. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model III or 4, 48K RAM, 
disk drive 
Radio Shack, $199 

THE QUAD 

AMI bills The Quad as an "application develop- 
ment tool." The Quad lives up to this billing. Tech- 
nically it is both a parameter-driven database 
management system and a non-procedural lan- 
guage. .; 

Parameter-driven databases contain program 
modules to do the most common data-processing 
tasks— data entry, sorting, updating and posting, 



60 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



report generation, and the like. Quad even contains 
a module to calculate payroll deductions. A built-in 
menu manager makes it possible to generate com- 
plete, complex applications. 

The Quad is able to generate particularly com- 
plex systems. It allows up to ten files to be open 
concurrently and provides reasonable file lengths 
and structures. Files can contain over 32,000 rec- 
ords, each up to 1,000 characters long. There can 
be up to 50 fields of 79 characters in each record. 

There is always a price to pay for such power. 
The Quad comes with a sample application, ac- 
counts receivable, which goes a long way in dem- 
onstrating how an application is put together using 
The Quad. 

The introductory manual talks about how The 
Quad allows end users to develop their own so- 
phisticated applications. This is nice sentiment, but 
unless you are a fairly sophisticated computer 
user, you probably will not have the patience to 
learn how to use the program. 
. The real market for this software is a much 
smaller and more specialized one. System devel- 
opers, those now using -a programming language 
or other development tool such as dBASE II, will 
benefit most from The Quad. If you fail into, this 
category, The Quad is most definitely worth taking 
a look at. If you are a relative beginner, you'd be 
better off waiting until AMI rewrites the manual, or 
looking elsewhere. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk 
drives, printer 
Accountants Microsystems, $675 

QUERYI2; REPORT WRITER 

Query!2 is a simple file-management system 
rather than a comprehensive database program, 
but it performs much better than most of its peers. 
Several of its features are usually seen only in the 
more elaborate systems. Among these are the abil- 
ity to search on any field and to delete and then 
"undelete" individual records. 

In theory, at least, a record may have up to 255 
fields, each containing 255 characters. In practice, 
a record of 255 fields, each 255 characters long, 
would more than fill 64K of RAM. For that reason, 
the program limits each record to 4,095 characters. 
Records are written to the file as they are entered. 
That slows the process of data entry a bit, but it 
also ensures that a system crash or power outage 
can destroy no more than a single record. Because 



records are not stored in memory, the only limita- 
tion on the size of each file is the amount of disk 
space available. 

Query!2 is command- rather than menu-driven, 
but the program's simplicity makes the few com- 
mands easy to remember. Query 12 will perform all 
of the basic functions required of a simple file man- 
ager. For cataloging a stamp collection or keeping 
a mailing or Christmas card list, it wili do just fine. 

By itself, Query!2 will not print out hard copies; if 
you can live without them, it may well be all the file 
manager you need. If not, the optional accessory, 
Report Writer, will take care of any printing chore, 
from simple listings to preparation of mailing la- 
bels. 

Query!2 cannot logically be compared to the 
likes of dBASE II or Lotus 1-2-3; it simply isn't 
meant for complex business uses. But at its price, 
It's a worthwhile little package. 
Requirements: IBM PC, Apple lie, TRS-80, CP/M, 
or Z-DOS; 64K RAM, one disk drive 
Hoyle and Hoyle Software, Query!2 $29.95; Report 
Writer $19.95 



QUICK-SEARCH LIBRARIAN 

If you're like a lot of people, you have accumu- 
lated stacks of magazines and technical journals. 
You keep telling yourself, "One of these days, I'm 
going to catalog that mess!" But somehow . . . 

Quick-Search Librarian (QSL) may be able to 
help. A specialized database program with some 
unusual features, QSL lets you enter journal titles, 
search keywords, volume/year/page information, 
author's name, article title, and comments. 
Through the use of a unique method of handling 
keywords and journal titles, a single data disk can 
hold up to 1,000 entries, each containing three 
search keys and over 100 characters of text The 
number of entries depends upon the number of 
keywords and characters stored. 

Up to 255 keywords in 26 categories may be de- 
fined for each database, with a maximum of 12 
keys assigned to each reference. Up to 18 letters 
can be assigned to each category and all 26 are 
displayed on screen when needed. To access one 
of them, you merely type a letter from A to Z and a 
list of the ten keywords (up to five letters each) in 
that category appears. By typing a single digit, you 
have selected your category/key. Using this 
method, each keyword requires only a single mem- 



Databases 



61 



ory cell or byte for storage. Up to 255 journal titles 
are stored in a similar fashion. 

Although written primarily in BASIC, QSL uses 
machine-language routines for fast searches and 
sorts. Typical search rate is 50 articles per second, 
using up to 16 parameters. Logical operators and 
multilevel parentheses may be used. Sort speed is 
typically 40 articles per second for concurrent sort- 
ing on three different fields, say, author, year, and 
journal. 

Other features include a merge function for com- 
bining two similar databases and a copy function, 
which duplicates ail or part of a database on an- 
other disk. QSL will print any combination of fields 
in any order with several fields per line. 

Supplied on a single unprotected disk, Quick- 
Search Librarian comes with a complete instruc- 
tion guide including tutorial and sample Scientific 
American database. . ' 

Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
or lie, 48K RAM, disk drive 
Interactive Microware, $75 

R:BASE4000 

You've seen the advertisements for R:BASE. You 
know, the ones that say on one page "d WAY" and 
on the facing page, "R WAY." These ads purport to 
show how much easier R:BASE Is to use than 
dBASE II. They don't really tell the whole story. 
R:BASE is easier to use, and it does sort faster. 
dBASE II is not only a database manager, however, 
but also an application development system, while 
R:BASE is "just" a database management system. 

Unfortunately, that doesn't tell the whole story 
either. R:BASE 4000 is not "just" a database man- 
ager, it is an excellent database management sys- 
tem. 

R:BASE 4000 is a true relational database man- 
ager, and its documentation uses relational data- 
base terms. That means you will be reading about 
databases rather than files, and elements rather 
than fields. This process is similar to learning a 
programming language, but much simpler, as 
R:BASE's commands are much more powerful 
than most programming languages. This learning 
process is eased by an excellent 65-page tutorial, a 
well-written and organized Reference Guide, a 
Command Summary, and extensive on-line help 
screens. 

While R:BASE 4000 does contain a menu man- 
ager, needed to produce turnkey database sys- 



tems, you can put together some extremely 
sophisticated applications using it 

Anyone who uses your application will have to be 
taught something about using R:BASE, as there is 
no way to hide the fact that your application is built 
around this program. But you can develop some 
pretty "whiz-bang" systems using it. 

"Plain" database management systems have 
generated less excitement than fancy application 
or program generators. This is. unfortunate, as a 
good database management system can be an in- 
valuable tool. R:BASE 4000 is such a system, and is 
one of the better ones. 

Requirements: MS-DOS 1.X or 2.X, 256K RAM; two 
disk drives 
MicroRiM, $495 

REVELATION 

Revelation is a difficult product to define. COS- 
MOS calls it an "operating environment," because 
it has some features of an operating system. While 
it installs over the MS-DOS or PC-DOS operating 
systems, the OS functions of Revelation are those 
of the PICK operating system used on mainframes 
and minis. COSMOS is a PICK licensee and says 
that Revelation is a microcomputer implementa- 
tion of that operating system. 

COSMOS also pushes Revelation as a database 
management system and program generator. It is 
certainly these things, and it has features which lift 
it out of the realm of "mere" databases. 

Revelation at its simplest is a true relational data- 
base. You: can define a database, create a data dic- 
tionary that contains the definitions of the 
database and makeup of its records, enter infor- 
mation, and retrieve the data in a variety of ways 
and according to extremely flexible selection crite- 
ria. You can also access information in other data- 
bases from the one you are working with. In 
relational database terms, this is called "joining," 
although Revelation calls it "translating." 

To a large extent, these functions are accessed 
through two of Revelation's modules— R/List and 
R/Design. R/List is Revelation's retrieval language; 
it contains verbs, or commands, used to select, 
sorting, and list information in an existing data- 
base. 

R/Design contains facilities to help you build and 
maintain the actual databases and their data dictio- 
naries. This module contains some other features 
as well, however, and it is these, along with addi- 



62 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



tional Revelation modules, which make this prod- 
uct more than just another database manager, 

R/Design doubles as a development tool used to 
build input screens and to design reports. R/De- 
sign builds these screens and reports with a pro- 
gram generator called GEN, which outputs R/ 
BASIC source code. R/BASIC is the Revelation op- 
erating environment's version of compilable 
BASIC. It has been greatly enhanced and optimized 
with features that allow it to function well in a data- 
base environment. R/BASIC screens and reports 
can be edited and customized through the use of 
the R/Edit line editor. R/Design also allows you to 
build user menus. All of these features, used in 
concert, allow you to develop complex turn-key ap- 
plication systems. 

Revelation also consists of R/Net and R/Upload. 
These modules can emulate an ADDS 100 terminal 
to upload files or allow your PC to operate as a 
terminal to a PICK mainframe or minicomputer 
host. 

Revelation is, in essence, an application devel- 
opment system that can be used to develop almost 
any conceivable turn-key application. All of this 
power and flexibility does not come without some 
significant trade-offs. 

The greatest is in complexity and ease of use. 
Revelation, extremely powerful, is also a complex 
piece of software to learn and use. While it can be 
used on an elementary level almost immediately, it 
will be a while before you are able to take advan- 
tage of the more advanced facilities it offers. The 
documentation, well written and organized, fills 
two binders. The first of these, a "User's Guide," is 
set up -in a tutorial format, while the second, the 
"Technical Reference Manual," covers the com- 
mand sets in a more succinct manner. Both man- 
uals assume a fair degree of familiarity with 
computers and with the PC-DOS (MS-DOS) operat- 
ing system. * 

The next trade-off affects many of those who are 
Revelation's natural users— applications devel- 
opers. Revelation is licensed to one machine and 
one user. If you plan on using Revelation to de- 
velop applications for others, you will either have 
to have each of your customers buy a copy of Re'v- 
elation, or work something out with COSMOS. 

The final trade-off is the cost, both of Revelation 
and of the hardware needed to run it Revelation is 
not Inexpensive. The software itself retails for close 
to a thousand dollars. Additionally, it requires that 



your IBM PC or certain PC-compatibles has at least 
320K of RAM and the 80B7 Math Chip. This chip 
alone retails for over $250 as this review is written. 
This brings the total cost of the Revelation software 
and equipment enhancements somewhere in the 
neighborhood of $1500. 

Whether Revelation is worth this much is hard to 
say. Some application development systems can 
do as much and cost much less. There are also 
others that cost more than Revelation does. Reve- 
lation is the only one that offers PICK compatibility. 
If Revelation were half its price, it could be recom- 
mended without reservation. If you really need soft- 
ware with this much flexibility and power, then the 
expense becomes less important. If, however, you 
could live with software that is less powerful, you 
might want to consider a software package consid- 
erably less expensive. 

Requirements: IBM PC, Compaq, Corona, Eagle, 
orColumbia MPC; 320K RAM, MS-DOS 1.X Or 2.X, 
8087 math processor, 320K disk drive, printer 
COSMOS, $950 

SCI-MATE PERSONAL DATA MANAGER 

There are very few database programs that are 
designed to deai primarily with text rather than 
numbers. There are even fewer that can honestly 
be called "world-class" programs, in the same 
sense the d BASE //is a. world class numeric data- 
base program. The Sci-Mate Personal Data Man- 
ager, or. PDM, is one of these. 

PDM is the electronic analog to an index-card 
filing system. Each record entry is the equivalent of 
an individual index card. As with an index card, you 
can enter information in any form you like, and can 
vary the lengths of each entry as appropriate. Un- 
like an index card, you can later search for any 
word, phrase, or combination of words and 
phrases. You only need to enter your keywords; the 
program will look through the entire text of each 
entry looking for matches. 

PDM allows just under 1 ,900 characters per rec- 
ord, but It will also automatically link records to- 
gether, which gives you effectively unlimited length 
for each entry. Another nice touch is that the pro- 
gram lets you flag entries. You can print out a list 
of flagged records at any time and use it as a fol- 
low-up file. 

The program has a built-in text editor, but you 
can also add information created by your word pro- 
cessor. It also lets you use the program in combi- 



Databases 



63 



nation with the Sol-Mate Online Searcher, reviewed 
under communications programs. Briefly, you can 
use the Searcher to save information received by 
phone, then add that information to. your own data- 
base for personal use. 

This is not a program for manipulating numbers, 
but if you want to replace your index-card files or 
keep track of research notes, you will find few 
packages that can give you as much flexibility in 
dealing with text. 

Requirements: IBM PC or XT, PC DOS 128K RAM, 
two. disk drives; CP/M, 64K RAM, two disk drives; 
available in machine-specific versions for Vector 3 
or 4, Kaypro 4 or 10, TRS-80 1 1/12 (with Pickles and 
Trout CP/M only), and Apple II with Z80 card and 
80-column card ■"■>£'■■■.-■■■. 
Institute for Scientific^lnformation, $540; with On- 
line Searcher $880 

SUPERLOG 

Superlog is part database-manager and part 
word processor. Billed as. an "electronic note- 
book," Superlog provides a free-form means of 
handling a wide variety of information, a task that it 
does very well. However, you must have the LDOS 
.5.1.3 operating system in order to set up Superlog: 

: Superlog provides up to 32,767 blank pages per 
file of 1,024 characters each on which to enter your 
data. The format you use is limited only by the 
1,024-character quota and your imagination. This 
arrangement makes Superlog an unintimidatihg 
database manager for the novice ana 1 a powerful 
organizational tool for data-management needs 
unsuited to more structured software. . / ■'. 

Superiog's two biggest assets are its search 
function and its large data-storage capacity. You 
can search for any single-word string on a Super- 
log file, or you can do a multiple-word search with 
a wildcard option. Most conventional database 
managers allow searches for only the first few 
characters of specific fields. The Superlog user can 
find any word anywhere in any file. 

You can have as many files as your disk-storage 
capacity allows. If that isn't enough, Superlog may 
be used with a hard-disk system, though the man- 
ual warns that the setup might be too difficult for a 
novice. 

Superlog also features word wrapping (that you 
can toggle off), commands to expand or delete a 
line, and one of the nicest looking, clearest man- 
uals around. ... .:■;■■. 



Superlog also provides a means to design and 
print out business, forms for billing, record keep- 
ing, payroll, or whatever. KSoft's method of retriev- 
ing data should be sufficient for many small- 
business needs. 

Superlog has no sort ability, and it cannot merge 
files for mailing lists and other applications. But for 
versatility and ease of use where these powers are 
not required, Superlog is hard to beat,. especially 
for the inexperienced user. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Model I or III, 48K RAM, 
disk drive 
KSoft,$119.95 ... ■. 

TIM HI 

TIM (short for Total Information Management) is 
one of the oldest database management systems 
on the market. It: is menu driven to help the user 
quickly to feel comfortable with the program. It 
does not allow the use of a command file to hold 
menu selections for easy retrieval, as do some 
other database management systems, , 

Any number of data files may be created with TIM 
III, and each may contain up to 32,767 records. 
Each record has a maximum of 40 separate data 
fields, and each field can contain up to 60 charac- 
ters. Each of the data fields can hold one of eight 
data types. The types are alpha, numeric, data, in- 
verted name, calculated, sequential, total, and dol- 
lar amount. As with most systems of this type, the 
real limitation is not with the software, but with the 
hardware. The number of data files is limited to the 
number that can fit on one diskette. An average 
application with 100 bytes per record and three key 
fields will permit 1,400 to 3,300 records, depending 
on the disk drive capacity. With a hard disk drive, 
the capacity is much greater, of course.": :. : . 

The numeric fields allow 16 digit precision and 
up to 4 decimal places. TIM can have as many as 3 
total fields per record, and each of the 3 total fields 
can combine the contents of up to 16 other fields. 
In addition, TIM allows up to 20 calculated fields 
per file. 

• Searching can be accomplished by one of two 
methods. A sequential search through ail of the 
records or a defined subset of the records — say, 
records 100 to 250— is the slower method. Key 
fields are also allowed and provide a much faster 
method of accessing your data. In fact, every field 
may be a key field, if desired. The problem is that 
the execution time in. merging new f records goes 



64 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



more slowly with each key field. A more practical 
solution is to use as few key fields as possible, 
normally one to four, then use the sequential, 
method for less frequently used searches. 

The method that TIM uses for record updating 
may seem a little cumbersome to some users. Many 
database systems update the files with records as 
they are entered. TIM requires the user to merge 
new records into the main file every time 100 rec- 
ords (or fewer, if desired) are entered. This is a slow 
process, but it does allow data entry to proceed 
more quickly than if the system must update all 
information with each entry. The IBM PC version 
makes excellent use of the ten dedicated Function 
keys. . 

■.Innovative Software provides a thorough, well- 
written manual printed in two colors for easy refer- 
ence. A primer section helps the new user.get 
started with four completed examples: a mailing 
list, a medical office system, a search firm system 
and a sales commission system. 
Requirements: CP/M, 56K. RAM; IBM PC, 128K 
RAM/two double-density disk drives v>j 
Innovative Software, $495 



VERSAFORM 

Can you imagine a business that tries to operate 
without the structure Its paperwork provides? 
While most business owners complain about the 
constant. flutter of paper in their offices, it's a fact 
that you need to keep your records in a logical 
format and intelligent order, not only so you can 
find things, but also to help prevent errors. 

Versaform is unique among information han- 
dling systems in that it works with what you're al- 
ready familiar with: forms. Any manual file- 
management system stores its data on filed pieces 
of paper; Versaform emulates this process on mi- 
crocomputer disks. The system lets you design 
your own forms; in effect When you put Versaform 
to work, the process simply transfers your existing 
forms and their associated data to computer files. 

Once a form is designed, you can enter an almost 
unlimited number of automatic checking and filing 
features onto the form itself. For example, if you 
create invoices with. Versaform, you might sell an 
inventory item that must be entered as one letter, a 
slash, and three digits, like G/445. You can instruct 
Versaform to accept entries only in that format. The 
system will then look up the price and description 



of the item (from a lookup table'that can handle up 
to 99 Items), do the necessary calculations auto- 
matically— 14 of item G/445 at $15.03 total $210.42 
—and even add sales tax, according to the tax rate 
you specify. Do you have a space oh your quotation 
forms that must be filled in? Just tell Versaform, 
and it won't allow users to proceed until they enter 
something. 

The myriad entry-checking functions means you 
can design your forms the way you need them, and 
then anyone can fill in the information with a high 
degree of accuracy ( because Versaform checks 
their input against your specifications. Versaform 
also lets you change a form design, even after 
you've entered data into the system. The package 
is completely error trapped 4 and comes with a de- 
tailed manual as well as a separate tutorial disk and 
booklet. 

Versaform can search oyer multiple disks to 
gather information for its reports, as long as their 
data is stored in the same form design. These sum- 
maries can be organized in any format you find 
helpful, and the package collects your information 
on a unique Report Work disk, which allows you to 
create reports -with more data in them than your 
micro's memory has available for this purpose.^ 
• in its power you'll also find Versaform's Achilles' 
heel. Since it's such a versatile package, to get 
started takes some time and effort; there are simply 
a lot of things you must decide on and learn about 
before you can effectively use the program. For 
instance, your search patterns — where you tell the 
system how to summarize your data— can have up 
to nine "or" conditions, with up to three tests for 
"and" in each. There is no "update-all-of-this- 
field" capability, so you cannot, for example,: have 
the system go through your inventory records and 
raise all prices ten percent : 

With all this ^power comes a certain amount of 
complexity; but if you work with numbers in a 
structured format, the cost of learning Versaform 
pales in comparison to its benefits.: ■'.■ : . :i 
Requirements: Apple II or lie with 64K RAM and 
DOS 3.3; IBM PC with 128K RAM and DOS 2.0; two 
disk drives .... 
Applied Software Technology, $389 



VISIFILE 

VisiFile is a highly functional file-management 
system, with documentation that is well done and 



Databases 



65 



easy to follow. Although it is not a full relational- 
database manager, VisiFile offers a very high de- 
gree of flexibility, making it suitable for most data 
chores that do not require the ability to work with 
more than one file at a time. 

After an informative introductory chapter, the 
documentation moves quickly into an explanation 
of the menu choices displayed on a line at the bot- 
tom of the VisiFile screen. A choice can be made by. 
moving the cursor to the proper entry, or simply by 
typing in the first letter of the word. ....-■ 

Defining a new file, is a straightforward process 
that seems less cumbersome than. is the case with 
some, programs. You begin by giving your file: a 
name, defining a size and "name for each of the 
fields, and designating the field type. There are five 
field types: alphanumeric, numeric, date, and a 
handy auto-date field that automatically enters, the 
day's date. A password is optional. 

Each record in a field may contain up to 1,000 
bytes with a maximum of 40 fields per record (2,048 
bytes and 104 records if your system has a 128K or 
more of memory), the number of records in a file is 
limited by the size of each record and the capacity 
of the disk. Sorting and searching can be done on 
anyfieid in a record. 

In the file-maintenance mode, which is where 
most work is done, recordsmay be added, deleted, 
or called up for viewing or making changes. De- 
leted records are' not permanently lost, only set 
aside in an "inactive" area where, they may be 
called up and reactivated later. 

As is the case with most database programs writ- 
ten in BASIC, the searching and sorting routines 
can be extremely slow. Sorting an Index on a full 
double-sided disk can take two hours or more, de- 
pending oh the number of records in the file. The 
same is true in the print function when only, se- 
lected records are to be printed. This only becomes 
noticeable, though, with very large files. 

VisiFiie's report generator is quite flexible, allow- 
ing you to arrange your report or mailing label for- 
mats to suit your bwri needs. Reports can be 
arranged to print titles and subtitles, and printing 
can be done in numerical or index sequence. Merg- 
ing address files with a form letter can be done in 
conjunction with a standard text editor. 

Although VisiFile is able to work with only one 
file at a time, it offers most other features found in 
many of the more elaborate relational-database 
managers.- 



Requirements: Apple II or lie or IBM PC, 64K RAM, 
disk drive ;■"'■ 

VisiCorp, Apple $250; IBM $350 



dBASE ADD-ONS 

There is no doubt about it: Despite bugs, despite 
the omission of some basic features from its built- 
in programming language, despite more complex^ 
ity than many beginning computer users can cope 
with, dBASE II is by far the most popular database 
manager for microcomputers yet produced. 
Around it, a whole industry has grown up dedi- 
cated to patching its flaws. Five programs from this 
category are reviewed below. '." : i 

; The five dBASE code generators all perform 
common tasks, accepting your input and translat- 
ing your definitions into dBASE source code. The 
first task defines and paints the screen you will use 
to enter data. The second defines the structure of 
your field and records. All five also provide update 
tools for maintaining your database file. The third 
task defines an index key or keys for your database. 
The fourth extracts the information you need from 
your database file for reports. 

Autocode, fast Base, Quickcode, dProgrammer, 
and dBASE Win do w all perform these common 
dBASE tasks with varying degrees of complexity. 
They all provide a skeleton for a dBASE application 
without requiring any knowledge ot the dBASE 
programming langauge. But they are aimed at two 
groups of users. .'' .'■"■'■ 

: Autocode and dProgrammer are oriented toward 
beginning users with simple application needs- 
people likely to take the skeleton provided and put 
it to immediate use. fastBase, Quickcode, and 
dBASE Window are aimed at users with more com- 
plex application needs. They are likely to learn 
enough dBASE to put some flesh on the skeleton. 

dProgrammer and dBASE Window are written in 
dBASE, and the source code is provided. The 
source code is a valuable learning tool for dBASE. 
The code is easily modified as your needs change 
or dBASE bugs occur. Also, these. programs can 
take advantage of the quirks and specific features 
of the dB ASE programming language that are hard 
to duplicate in a. compiled language. So It is pos- 
sible to get command files that execute faster and 
perform more complex operations. dBASE Window 
makes full use of the intricacies of dBASE. The CP/ 
M version, of dBASE is a mature product with only 



66 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



minor updates likely. So CP/M users should con- 
sider the value of having source code. 

Autocode, fast Base, and Quickcode are com- 
piled programs, so they perform faster than the two 
source-code generators. However, once you have 
your dBASE output you are back to the speed of 
the dBASE interpreter. The main exception. is in 
maintaining your database file, where the speed of 
a compiled program is useful. 

All five programs require investing time to learn 
them. They also add $200 to $400 to the cost of 
using dBASE. The costs are easily justified by 
dBASE programmers who use them for multiple 
applications. Whether you can justify the costs is 
another question. 

MS-DOS and CP/M-86 users of c/S^SE-support 
software should note that Ashton-Tate is currently 
working on version 2.6 written for the Lattice C 
compiler. Supposedly, this version will be 80 per- 
cent compatible with existing dBASE programs. 
tfBASE-support software will have to adapt to new 
requirements. This question does not apply to the 
CP/M version. All support software reviewed is 
compatible with dBASE 2.4. 

ABSTAT 

Abstat provides statistical analysis for numerical 
fields, in . dBASE's database files.; Both multiple 
regression and two-way analysis of; variance 
(ANOVA) are available.7\bsfaf also provides simple 
bar and scatter plots using characters and num- 
bers for the graph points. 

Abstat correctly imports dBASE's fixed decimal 
type and then converts it to a single-precision float- 
ing point for internal use. It also correctly converts 
numbers from single precision to fixed decimal for 
export back to dBASE. Abstat has useful options to 
control the range of numeric data imported and to 
specify the data exported. The documentation is 
clear and adequate about the dBASE interface. 
Abstat requires one year of graduate statistics to 
make full use of the program. Or, at least, a recent, 
intensive, one-semester course. 

Abstat includes simple but adequate data edit- 
ing, data transformation, and report generating 
commands. It can handle up to 4,000 data points. 
These can be split as needed among 20 indepen- 
dent variables for multiple regression; There are 
also the required statistical tests, such as the F test, 
various t tests, z scores, and Chi Square to allow 
you to interpret your results. 



The documentation and help files are excellent 
for those with the required background. Abstat is 
compiled and hence faster than interpreted BASIC 
programs that also interface with dBASE. All in all, 
it is a very good general-purpose statistical pack- 
age. ■■■■■■■■■■■■•_:. _ , 

Requirements: . CP/M-80, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS; 
dBASE II (floating point only forCP/M-80) 
Anderson-Bel! Company, $395. : . 

AUTOCODE 

Autocode 1 is the program of choice for begin- 
ners. The two manuals are written for users without 
a background in either computers; or dBASE. The 
"User's Guide", is a tutorial that takes you step by 
step through using the three core programs to cre- 
ate a database. The reference manual covers much 
the same terrain in greater detail. The quality of the 
documentation is such that a beginning user can 
create a successful application the first time. Fur- 
ther,, the current documentation is a major im- 
provement over version 1. Features such as the use 
of the relational operators for reports are now 
clearly accessible for beginners as are arithmetic 
operations for numeric fields, so users can add 
greater detail to their application' outline as their 
skills and needs develop. . 

Autocode uses BASRUN.EXE or.CBRUN.CMD, 
depending on the operating system you use. So the 
programs are compact and fit comfortably with 
your dBASE files on a double-sided.disk. You can. 
leave Autocode and conveniently test your, code 
output. And the error messages are adequate. 

Auto code treats dBASE as a flat file manager, so 
features such as linking a primary and a secondary 
database are not supported. Within its limitations, 
however, Autocode does provide the beginning 
user with the most important 'dBASE features- 
such as range and validation checking on fields, 
defining character, numeric or logical types, and 
specifying multiple report critera. If dBASE is cur- 
rently sitting unused on your shelf, Autocode could 
entice you to begin using it. 

Requirements: CP/M, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS; 
dBASE II 
Axel Johnson Corp., $195 

dBASE M 

dBASE II is good, and some consider it great. Yet 
even committed dBASE users tend to mix their fa- 



Databases 



67 



naticism with frustration. Develop a large applica- 
tion with dBASE II, and the reason becomes clear: 
You may never again be happy programming in a 
language that lacks dBASE It's powerful file-han- 
dling statements. While you're working, however, 
you'll curse its built-in language for leaving out 
several standard programming constructs — and 
for its rich variety of. insect fife, particularly in ver- 
sions earlier than the current 2.4. =-. 

Of course, you may never meet the programming 
language. The great strength of this database sys- 
tem over many others is that its programming abil- 
ity is twinned with a full set of interactive 
commands. You can create a database, edit or up- 
date it, query it, or report on its contents without 
ever writing a line of code, it's a lot like interpretive 
BASIC; you can enter commands one at a time and 
see what happens, or you can use the built-in edi- 
tor to create a program and then sit back and 
watch it run. : 

■ When you crank dBASE //up for the first time, all 
you see is the program's prompt, a dot on an intim- 
idatingly blank screen. Yet getting started with 
dBASE is easy. Simply type Create, and dBASE II 
lets you define your database. Up to 32 fields or 
data items can be included in a database record. 
Each field has a length, name, and type: character, 
numeric, or logical. A field may be up to 254 char- 
acters long. Numbers are stored with ten-digit ac- 
curacy. 

After defining the items in a record of your data- 
base, the Append command gives you a full-screen 
display of an empty record, with data fieids set off 
by colons. You can add a record by simply typing 
values into the fields. dBASE II does some input 
processing for you; for example, only numbers may 
be typed in a numeric field. 

Simple commands are available to List the rec- 
ords in your database, move to a particular record, 
Insert new records in the middle of a database, and 
Edit, or change, an existing record. When you De- 
lete a record, it is marked for deletion, but not 
really removed from the database until you Pack it. 

It does not become clear how powerful this data- 
base manager is until you retrieve, Delete, or 
change records. For example, if your database 
stores employee records, you could list all employ- 
ees in New York State by typing LIST FOR STATE 
= 'NY'. A single Replace command can update the 
entire database. To give all the employees who 
work in the jewelry department a 6 percent raise, 



you could type REPLACE FOR DEPT = 'JEWELRY' 
SALARY WITH SALARY * 1 .06. 

Records are stored in the database in the order 
you Append or Insert them. dBASE II lets you cre- 
ate reports from your database, and you may want 
to Sort it first. Unfortunately, dBASE ll's sort is as- 
tonishingly slow, and it sorts only one field at a 
time; putting a mailing list into alphabetical order 
within zip codes requires two excruciating steps. 
Most programmers avoid using Sort, and several 
firms offer utilities to replace it 

In partial compensation, dBASE II also lets you 
create an index over a field, or more than one field. 
The index lets you access the database in the same 
order that a sort would have produced. Though 
much faster than sorts, indexing a database of 100- 
byte records using two keys still take nearly 10 min- 
utes on a CompuPro System with a five-MHz 8088 
and fast 8-inch disk drives. If you are going to use 
this feature often, it may pay to invest in a disk 
emulator. : ' : : 

You can do lots of useful things with just the 
interactive mode. However, with dBASE ll's pro- 
gramming language, you can develop application 
packages that appear free-standing. For software 
firms, Ashton-Tate even markets a costly "run- 
time" package for hidden use with commercial ap- 
plication programs; no one need ever know that 
dBASE II is behind the screen. 

Good as it is, dBASE suffers from several defi- 
ciencies. Most seriously, only two files can be open 
at one time; this is too few for many applications. 
The limit of 32 fieids per record is a lesser handi- 
cap. It would be nice to have more data types— a 
money type, for example. And the programming 
language lacks both arrays and an equivalent of 
BASIC'S For - Next loop. Yet it is possible to pro- 
gram around most of these limitations. 
" One can also program around the bugs. The 
most recent revision, version 2.4, corrected neary 
40 of them, but there are still more defects in 
dBASE than one would expect in a program so 
long on the market. . 

Version 2.4 also has a few improvements. Typing 
Help will now get you a reasonable explanation of 
dBASE ll's features. If you know generally what you 
want to do, this beats thumbing through the noto- 
riously poor manual. Yet further aid is needed. 

The manuai has two major sections. Program- 
mers should understand most of it but will have a 
hard time looking up details while working. Others 



68 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



may be unable to penetrate the jargon to figure out 
how it all fits together. Because of this, a huge 
market has sprung up in dBASE II tutorials] books, 
and training aids. 

Should you buy dBASE II? Perhaps. Few data- 
base management systems offer both convenient 
interactive querying and a powerful programming 
language. And dBASE II is the runaway best seller 
of the microcomputer world; skills learned with it 
•can easily be transferred to another computer or to 
other programs. 

Nonetheless, it is difficult to single out a replace- 
ment for dBASE II that is as versatile or that works 
on so many computers. If you are willing to put up 
with some quirks and spend time in learning to use 
this package, your efforts will be well rewarded. 
Requirements: CP/M-80, 48K RAM; CP/M-86, 64K 
RAM; MS-DOS, 64K RAM; disk drive .: 
Ashton-Tate, $695 .<; 

dBASE WINDOW 

dBASE Window is the preferred choice if you 
want a dBASE front end written in dBASE. dBASE 
Window '..-takes full advantage of the programming 
quirks and optimization techniques of dBASE. In 
addition, dBASE Window can handle any number 
of databases and generate the complex relation- 
ships between them. Since you have access to log- 
ical operators, numeric expressions, and report 
qualifiers, you can perform operations against en- 
tire databases. For example, you can mark all the 
records in a database for deletion and then use 
dBASE Win do w to re m o ve t h e m . 

Window refers to a relationship between two 
databases that share a common field or relation. 
Your currently defined relation appears at the top 
of the screen. The feature gives you a constant 
check on what a relational database is doing. Be- 
sides generating the output dBASE code, Window 
provides a menu-driven skeleton for running them. 

Window also gives you full dBASE control for 
report generation, in one report, you can have data 
from two databases with break expressions for 
each. You can format your report almost any way 
you want with subtotals, totals, and counts. You 
can also do ad hoc queries to a database within 
Window. In short, Window is a substantial imple- 
mentation of the dBASE program language. If you 
compare the source code against the output code, 
you will have a useful map of how to write more 
complex applications. You can take segments of 



the code and tinker and adapt them to speed up 
your learning of dBASE, 

The 118-page manual is well organized and thor- 
ough. No familiarity with dBASE is assumed. But 
you do need a computer background. The error 
and warning messages are clear and detailed. A 
nice touch is the inclusion of forms for defining 
your application. There are. also several appendi- 
ces that nicely summarize dBASE commands and 
map the way Window uses them. 

Window uses 186KB of disk space. So it will fit 
on a double-sided disk with dBASE 2.4 on most 
systems. 

Requirements: CP/M-80, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS; 
dBASE II ■ 
Tylog Systems, $249 



dBPLUS 

dBASE's Sort command is one of the program's 
greatest shortcomings; in fact, it is seldom used. 
dBPIus has moved into this gap with a fast-com- 
piled program. The Sort program uses ail available 
memory, so the MS-DOS and CP/M-86 versions are 
much faster than the CP/M-80 version if you have a 
1 28K or more memory. It will sort on up to 1 1 fields 
simultaneously. dBASE only sorts on one field, and 
that with untoward slowness. Further, the dBASE 
Sort gets geometrically slower as more records are 
added. 

• The second useful function is compressing a 
database file/to about 40 percent of its original size. 
This is useful for archive backup, simple encryp- 
tion, and to reduce your phone bill for modem 
transmission. Of course, the recipient must also 
have a copy of the dBPIus decompression pro- 
gram. 

The third function allows you to create and rede- 
fine a new database file from an existing one. You 
can copy or delete existing fields to the new data- 
base. Or you can change the field name and type 
as well as change the length and number of deci- 
mal places in a new field. After all your new fields 
and records are completed, dBPIus will generate 
the new database's structural definition. Users un- 
familiar with dBASE can use one of the front ends 
to maintain a database and then use dBPIus to cre- 
ate new databases. All this is possible in dBASE 
itself, but it's much more complex than it need be. 

All three functions are compiled and menu- 
driven. No knowledge of dBASE is required. The 



Databases 



69 



documentation is thorough and clearly laid out for 

the beginning user. 

Requirements: CP/M-80, MS-DOS, or CP/M-86; 

dBASEI! 

Humansoft, $125 

DGRAPH 

Those used to working with spreadsheet pro- 
grams or databases, especially dBASE II, for which 
this package was designed, should feel quite at 
home with this program. From the layout of the 
menus to the use of the cursor for addressing to 
the basic concept of how the chart data is orga- 
nized into rows and columns, it suggests spread- 
sheet all the way. This makes it an extremely ver- 
satile tool for many users, especially those using 
microcomputers for small business applications. 

The manual is probably one of the best ever writ- 
ten for this kind of business graphics program, it 
takes you step by step through the process of cre- 
ating the charts— bar, pie, line, and a special "pie- 
bar" in which pie segments are presented in linear 
form — using several sets of demo data provided on 
the diskette. Labeling of the various chart param- 
eters—headlines, axes, legends, and so on, is all 
menu prompted. Axes may be set either by entering 
minimum and maximum values for each or by hav- 
ing the program calculate them from data. And 
data entry itself, from dBASE II files, other spread- 
sheet files, or the keyboard, is also quite easy. 

Those with the IBM PC version of the program 
will be able to store and display up to three charts 
per page and also to view a chart on the screen 
before it is sent to the printer. With the CP/M eight- 
bit versions, you enter the data but can't view the 
chart until it is plotted. 

The problem for some users, however, is that 
dGraph is a ■ little less sophisticated than some 
other presentation graphics programs discussed in 
this chapter. For one thing, you are working strictly 
in black and white, not color, and the program sup- 
ports only ten-dot matrix or letter-quality printers 
and no plotters. For another, the choice of cross- 
hatching is somewhat limited, as are line styles and 
data point markers for line charts. In short, though 
the program is flexible and works well, you can't 
rely on it to make slides and transparencies for 
your next presentation. 

Requirements: CP/M 2.2, MS-DOS, of similar oper- 
ating system, 48K RAM, 240K on one or two drives 
Fox&Geiler, $295 



dPROGRAMMER 

dPROGRAMMER is a program generator de- 
signed to create simple, menu-driven business ap- 
plications using Ashton-Tate's popular dBASE II 
database management system. Its focus in on ease 
of use rather than on power. dPROGRAMMER is 
used to paint simple menu screens, which it then 
uses to define the structure of a database file. It 
also contains a simple fiie-maintenance program 
and a simple program for extracting information 
and reports from a file. 

Simplicity is relative, however. This program 
eliminates some of the drudgery of setting up a 
database system; the real work of designing the 
application remains. To use dPROGRAMMER's ap- 
plication generator effectively, you will have to un- 
derstand dBASE II, Even the creation of a new 
record type is guided by menus only up to the entry 
of field information; at that point you fall out of the 
dPROGRAMMER menu system and find yourself 
looking at dBASE It's "Name, Type, Width, Deci- 
mal" prompt: Although some work is saved in de- 
vising applications, this program generator isn't 
worth $295. 

About the furthest dPROGRAMMER goes to help 
you is in the creation of "quick lists." You type your 
file name, list name, index name, selection criteria, 
and output field list into a form, and a dBASE II 
program is created to generate your list. This gets 
added to a menu, from which it can be called up by 
typing a single number. 

Perhaps dPROGRAMMER's best feature is a sim- 
ple accounting system that comes with it. While not 
as powerful as many accounting packages, the 
general ledger, accounts payable, and accounts re- 
ceivable programs are probably adequate for many 
small businesses and will serve as the starting 
point for a more comprehensive system. These pro- 
grams are intended only as an example of 
dPROGRAMMER's use, but they make up more 
than half the program and data files that come with 
this package, and they may be the more valuable 
part. 

Requirements: CP/M-80, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS; 
two disks of at least 180K each; dBASE II version 

2.3B orabove 

Sensible Designs, $295 

FASTBASE 

fastBase consists of seven compiled CBASIC 
programs with overlays distributed on two double- 



70 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



sided disks. There are also two programs for instal- 
lation and testing. You will have to do some adap- 
tation and juggling to use dBASE and fastBase on 
the same disk. i 

The separation of dBASE functions into free- 
standing programs avoids confusion. And the sep- 
arate programs are easier to use. in addition, 
fastBase is a well thought out and executed pro- 
gramming job. Unlike Autocode, it makes use of 
dBASE features, memory variables, and primary 
and secondary databases. Given its flexible ap- 
proach, range of functions and price, fastBase is 
the choice of compiled programs for advanced 
users and dBASE programmers. 

With a few exceptions, fastBase does everything 
dBASE Window does. You- can create and build a 
new database from up to ten linked databases. The 
generated fife-maintenance command file can' re- 
organize index files, search for records, and add, 
modify, or delete records. fastBase also allows you 
to include a "print screen utility" in this file. So you 
could, say, print an audit trail of changes made in a 
database file. 

Unlike Autocode, fastBase has a primitive full- 
screen editor. In painting a screen, you can define 
points where the dBASE command file halts for 
data input. After defining your stop, you are free to 
position the cursor anywhere on the screen to de- 
fine the next field. Stops can be moved, or copied 
to other positions on the screen, or they can be 
easily deleted. Features such as these make fast- 
Base more powerful and flexible than Autocode. ■ 

fastBase allows you to create up to seven index 
files for every database. Numeric fields are auto- 
matically converted to strings. This allows conca- 
tenation of multiple numeric and character fields 
into one index. Character fields are automatically 
converted to uppercase, so dBASE can perform 
searches while ignoring upper- and iowercase dis- 
tinctions. 

The procedure for deleting records is another 
example of careful attention to progammming de- 
tail. You mark your records for deletion, if you 
make mistakes, you are given a safety clause. You 
must subsequently specify your deletion criteria. 
Only records that match these criteria will then be 
deleted. 

fastBase also has a dBASE command file utility 
that duplicates much of dUtil. This utility performs 
three functions: all command lines can be left jus- 



tified to maximize execution speed; you can indent 
a command line to increase readability and to lo- 
cate important structures such as nested do loops; 
and a currently executing command file can be 
combined with second command file. Sequential, 
combining one level at a time is possible. 

The current Achilles' heel of fastBase is its inad- 
equate documentation. Revised and expanded 
documentation should be ready by the time you 
read this review. 

Requirements:' CP/M-80, CP/-86, or MS-DOS; 
dBASE II 
Fourcolor Data Systems, $200 

QUICKCODE 

Quickcode attempts to satisfy two groups of 
users: An automatic pilot mode supposedly guides 
novice users easily through the program. With the 
automatic mode off, advanced users can imple- 
ment more complex features. However, mastering 
Quickcode requires a heavy investment of time for 
both beginning and 'advanced users. A separate 
'user's^ guide and tutorial similar to Autocode's 
would make the program usable for beginners. The 
documentation supplied is excellent for more ad- 
vanced users. 

Quickcode has a different design approach from 
the other four menu-driven dBASE generators. The 
approach is best understood by watching a dem- 
onstration before purchase. 

Quickcode has many features that other dBASE 
generators do not. It can generate formatted fields 
for Social Security numbers, telephone numbers, 
and dates. It will output WordStar- and MailMerge- 
compatible files along with dBASE command files 
—useful for generating mailing lists and form let- 
ters. You can also define selection criteria within 
Quickcode for working with WordStar and Mall- 
Merge files. And the Quickscreen editor has a num- 
ber of options, such as generating horizontal lines 
to clarify the location of fields and text. Another 
useful feature is the generation of simple dBASE 
program documentation by Quickcode. 

Not all dBASE users will require such extensive 
and complex features. The audience for Quickcode 
is limited to serious dBASE programmers, most 
likely professionals who can profit from its power. 
Requirements: CP/M-BO, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS; 
dBASEII 
Fox&Geller, $295 



71 



EERJERAL BUBIOJE 



:cz< 



>=3 



Newspapers and magazines may trumpet the 
joys of owning your own computer, but for 
makers of higher-priced micros so far the business 
market is clearly where the action is. For most peo- 
ple, it takes a definite money-making or money- 
saving use to justify making the kind of investment 
it takes to set up a major small-computer system— 
and after that to spend, on average, that much 
again for software. : 

Much of the business software now available 
falls into a few major categories— spreadsheets, 
database managers, integrated packages, and so 
on. But there is also a broad range of business 
programs that defy these neat labels. They are gen- 
erally less generic microcomputer tools and more 
aimed at enhancing a specific business skill, or 
discipline. While highly varied, these packages 
tend to have- one thing in common: They let the 
user organize a mass of business data and select 
that which is most useful at any given moment or 
for any task. These packages offer users the time 
and analytical tools to make better-informed deci- 
sions about their day-to-day business operations— 
the crux of sound management. .■■■■:■-■ ; -' .■ 

One typical use is time management. Using time 
efficiently often means the difference between suc- 
cess and mediocrity in business. One must know 
how to assign priorities, schedule and keep track 
of appointments, and organize that information for 
retrieval and use later. A -.lot more js involved than 
simply making sure you have not booked overlap- 
ping appointments, 

Another variety of software helps to manage 
projects— say, the construction of an office build- 
ing or preparation of a large research report. Such 
projects typically involve many people and many 
specific steps, the timing of which affects other op- 
erations. A construction project, for example,, may 
require dozens of licenses and zoning variations in 
addition to hundreds of factors involved in the 
building itself. Scheduling each step for greatest 
efficiency is a process that few managers would 
wish to take on without the aid of a computer. 

In addition, software aimed at a specific, limited 
segment of industry falls into this chapter. From 
calculating the change in a restaurant's profits 
when meal size is varied to prospecting for new 
sales clients, nearly every business undertaking 
seems to have a specialized application package 
designed to make it easier or more efficient. In 
many cases, these chores could be handled by a 



generic spreadsheet or database manager. 
Whether they should be, or whether buying a spe- 
cial-purpose program is more sensible is a ques- 
tion that many business people must, ask before 
every software purchase. . ■■"■■'■ : ' : -- 

For example, there are many systems designed 
to help sales personnel keep track of prospect/ 
client information. Data fields in these special-pur- 
pose database managers oome with such prede- 
fined data headings as "Prospect . Name," 
"Prospect Spouse,". "Prospect Favorite Hobby," 
and so on. The goal, of course, is better customer 
rapport, better service, and ultimately more sales. 
It would be easy to write a custom database appli- 
cation to manage such data, but professional pro- 
grammers with sales experience may; be able :to 
create a package that is easier to use than a begin- 
ner could write. On the other hand, writing your 
own application could produce software. that fits 
your special needs better than the generalized 
packages on the market. The reviews below should 
provide at least a good place to start your analysis. = 

A glance at the software offerings in this section 
should convince almost anyone that somewhere 
there must be a program to aid in managing their 
time, money/business procedures, and specialized 
information. The efficiency gained by setting up a 
well chosen computer system can more than repay 
the time and money it takes to get started. Remenv 
ber, though, that' the effort of finding a program 
and inputting data is wasted unless you adjust your 
procedures to make use of information you can 
now organize. In the end, it is still. man,: not ma- 
chine, who runs your business.« 

AGENDA 

Agenda is a personal scheduling program fora. 
single user. Its best feature is probably the built-in 
clock, which beeps when a scheduled appointment 
is imminent. Also, to its credit, Agenda allows the 
entry of memos, reminders, and appointments on 
the same screen. The entry can be up to 28 charac- 
ters and may include two expense categories cho- 
sen from the 254 that Agenda allows the user to 
define. Expenses may be totaled by day or for de- 
fined periods. Both scheduled and actual time can 
be recorded. Up to 3,000 records are .allowed. • . . 

In. some ways, unfortunately, Agenda lacks pol- 
ish. The free-format screen approach used is flexi- 
ble in that you may schedule appointments at 2:13 
and 2:59. However, this means that there is no con- 



72 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



sistency in displaying time periods.' A regular 4:00 
appointment could show up anywhere on the 
screen, depending on how many items preceded it. 
A time organizer should itself show more organiza- 
tion. Events that recur each month or year can be 
entered automatically, but there is no provision for 
weekly or first-Tuesday-of-each-month events. 
Function -execution- shows inconsistency; a key 
may have two entirely different commands. 

Agenda is passable but with higher-functioned, 
more refined personal scheduling programs on the 
market for about the same price, you'd better shop 
around. '■■'■ ■.- ■ : •■ '■ 

Requirements: IBM PC or MS-DOS, 128K RAM, 
one disk drive : 
TCI Software^ $65 

ASSET-MANAGER 

Almost all businesses have assets to manage. 
.They can be large and elaborate, such as complex 
machinery, buildings, and cars, or as simple as 
typewriters, furniture, and small tools. : 

Keeping track of these assets can be extremely 
tedious. Good business procedure requires that 
you record both the acquisition and disposal of 
assets used in your business. To complicate mat- 
ters further, many tax laws, on both the federal 
(IRS) and state levels, affect how you must account 
for the assets on your company's books/" 

Because many assets benefit your company long 
after the year in which they are acquired, the IRS 
and many state tax authorities do not always allow 
you to deduct the full cost of an asset at once. The 
process of matching the cost of an asset to the life 
of the benefit the asset provides is called deprecia- 
tion or amortization, depending on the type of 
asset, -i^ '• ■:'--':- : ": ::: -■■ :'■ :. : ■■.■'.■■,;. 

.■' : Microfab's Asset-Manager, for the Apple com- 
puter, can considerably ease this complex process. 
On one level, it acts as a simple database to track 
the location and serial numbers of your assets. This. 
is useful, but could be done with any database or 
file handier. Asset-Manager's real Worth is in its 
ability to simplify the process of deciding which 
depreciation method is best and then calculating 
the proper depreciation and investment tax credits. 1 
Asset-Manager can calculate depreciation based 
on declining balance (125 percent, 150 percent, or 
200 percent), sum of the years digits, straight line, 
or ACRS. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, the 
documentation provides a good discussion of de- 



preciation, asset classes, methods of depreciation, 
the investment credit, andasset retirement and dis- 
posal. " , .'.-• • ■. ■--.='■ 

The package is easy to use and provides a variety 
of useful reports, including depreciation sched- 
ules, asset inventory lists, arid even a form 4562 
that can be filed with your corporate, partnership, 
or individual tax return. Asset-Manager can handle 
up to 999 different assets and ten different busi- 
nesses for one taxpayer. It automatically updates 
the files from year to year so that a particular asset 
need only be.entered once. 

Anyone running a business will find this a useful, 
easy-to-use package.The only clear fault appeared 
during the data entry process. The program has 
adequate error trapping and refuses to take an er- 
roneous entry. When this happens, the cursor just 
stays on the line and blinks at you. A much better 
approach would be to give a diagnostic message at 
the bottom of the screen, such as "You must input ■ 
a date before 1/1/80." Other than this minor fault; it 
is not difficult to make use of the program.- ■ . : 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or He; 48K RAM, DOS 
3.3, one disk drive -v- .;■■■■■;... 

Microlab, $200 : ■■■'_■:. ■■■■: ■■:-":--;: : :' : 

THE BOTTOM LINE STRATEGIST 

New business ventures, whether for established 
or startup companies, are risky because they in- 
volve so many factors, each of which can make the 
difference between success and failure. The Bot- 
' torn Line Strategist is a business planning pro- 
gram. It allows you to define marketing and 
financial assumptions, which are run through 
some complex forecasting equations. The result- 
ant charts and graphs will then tell. you how your, 
venture will do financially. 

Financial models are, by their very nature, sim- 
plistic approaches to complex situations. Those 
used by The Bottom Line Strategist are no excep- 
tion. However, the program does allow for a fairly 
wide range of business factors, is easy to use, runs 
quickly, and produces thought-provoking projec- 
. tions. . : -v.. . 

To forecast your project's future, The Bottom 
Line Strategist asks you to supply "Key Business 
Assumptions." They involve your predicitons of 
sales during the : period — up to 60 months maxi- 
mum, expenses, financing and capitalization, as 
well as more general economic indicators such as 
the inflation rate. These factors include such items 



General Business 



73 



as "Time lag between marketing expense and re- 
sulting revenue" and "Number of sale transaction 
per customer per month." There are even learning 
curve rates. 

These data are then fed through several com- 
plex, though standard, business formulas, like the 
Vidale-Wolfe model. When the analysis is 'complete 
—calculation time is only a few seconds— a wealth 
of projections is available, from tables of numbers 
cascading across your screen like the directory of 
a 200-file diskette to a summary screen. They give 
ranging from your projected break-even point and 
maximum Net Present Value to bar and scattered 
point charts. -■'-■ . • ;■ 

Econometric models that allow for every busi- 
ness factor with infinite flexibility would be inher- 
ently too complex for your average micro user, and 
in any case none has been designed yet. Most fac- 
tors, projected sales, for example, are educated 
guesses anyway. But The Bottom Line Strategist 
does have a number of .glaring omissions and 
faults. Capital assets are both expensed and amor- 
tized, for example, like inflation rate, once set, can- 
not change. ■ ■■■...'. 

The Bottom Line Strategist is an excellent learn- 
ing tool, its weaknesses notwithstanding. In fact, 
proficiency in this product would be comparable to 
receiving high marks in a quantative MBA course.: 
There is a "sensitivity analysis," which applies' a set 
of varying assumptions so that you cansee how a 
change in a single assumption will affect the entire 
outcome. Its prime deficiency is that, unlike the 
real world where almost everything matters, in The 
Bottom Line Strategist you are only allowed to con- 
sider 31 items. 

Requirements: MS-DOS, 128K RAM, one disk drive 
Ashton-Tate, $400 

BPT 

BPT, the Business Planning Tool, is designed for 
the businessperson looking to test strategic mar- 
keting and financial decisions before committing 
companyresdurces. BPT generates detailed profit- 
and-Ioss statements and balance sheets. Although 
no sources arid uses of funds statements are cre- 
ated, a balancing mechanism is built into the bal- 
ance sheet to handle cash surplus and/or shortfall, 

BPT is an automatic spreadsheet generator, 
which allows the user to create interactive fore- 
casts and budgets and does not require the user to 
set up formulae, do calculations, or create formats. 



The advantage of BPT over electronic spread- 
sheets such as VisiCalc or SuperCalc is its ease of 
use, for BPT is "account" oriented. The user speci- 
fies an item from his or her chart of accounts and 
then responds to plain English prompts to project 
this account into the future. BPT allows easy han- 
dling of complex interrelationships of items on the 
P&L and balance sheet, by letting the user set forth 
the relationship in English, moving the cursor to 
specify which accounts to link. 

The BPT creates a 12-month profit and loss state- 
ment, with year total and percent of income col- 
umns. The BPT balance sheet shows a beginning 
balance, 12 months of data, an ending balance, 
and a column showing difference from start to end 
Of the year.. '■'■"■/ ' v '■'' 

Unlike some financial software which limits the 
number of product lines or costs, BPTs only con- 
straint is that the total package cannot exceeed 
192K. BPT claims. that you will be hard pressed to 
create a worksheet that runs out of memory space.. 

To create a BRT report, the user specifies a 
month and year to be used as a starting date. BPT 
has a built-in calendar from 1940 to 2039. After la- 
belling an account on the P&L, the user states the 
base date, and then may input data for each month, 
establish a growth trend, or -make one account a 
function of another. BPT has a specific code for 
total income' and net profit, which automatically 
calculates these amounts. Other subtotals are user 
set and treated as memo entries. 

BPT provides balance-sheet calculation subrou-. 
tines. For example, the user can establish a sinking 
fund, an accumulating, interest-bearing asset ac- 
count for funds to be used for a future purchase. 
After specifying the total amount, the .date when 
funds are needed, and an investment rate, BPT cal- 
culates the monthly amount to be set aside. Simi- 
larly, depreciation is calculated automatically by 
specifying the life and total and salvage values of 
the fixed asset. The user may also set up loan ac- 
counts, listing amounts, annual interest rates, and 
tenors. The user then "posts" the balance-sheet 
subroutine to the P&L; creating an automatic tie-in. 
In the same fashion, "posting" transfers the net 
income after tax line on the P&L to the balance 
sheet, to be.accumulated in the retained earnings 
area. BPTs balance sheet provides an automatic 
"balancing account," either cash or a line of credit. 

BPT interfaces with electronic spreadsheets 
such as SuperCalc or VisiCalc with a "template" in 



74 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



an appropriate format for manipulation. All-entries, 
except totals, where math is retained, are data. 

BPT has a built-in values projection graph/which 
displays graphically the data in the reports. Values 
may also be changed in this graphing mode, pro- 
viding a visual display of the impact of any change. 

Sofstar, the manufacturer of BPT, also sells con- 
nection software, which allows the user to inter- 
face a. general ledger with BPT, loading- the GL 
information as data. fiPT creates the relationships 
for extrapolation.. 
Requirements: IBM PC 
Sofstar, $225 ■■ 

BRAINSTORMER 

Brainstormeris a problem-solving tool based on 
the Morphological Box concept, in which struc- 
tured representations .. of a given problem are out- 
lined and solutions to that problem generated. It is 
based, on the theory that new and creative solu- 
tions arise from new ways of. looking at a given 
- problem. . 

The program runs in BASIC, but you do not need 
to know how to program. What willtake time, even 
though the manual is clear and comprehensive, is 
.familiarizing yourself with the 12 different screens 
used to display the problem of interest, its themes 
and variations, .and ultimately to probe for un- 
thought-of solutions, i.e., combinations. 

Once a problem of interest is specified, you con- 
struct themes on that problem and variations on 
those themes., For example, under the problem 
"Transport A Iter natives, ".you. could specify power 
source, support structure, and operating medium 
as themes; under the theme "power source,", for, 
instance, solar power, gasoline engine, nuclear 
power, and human muscle might appear as varia- . 
tions. When ail is set up, "probes" randomly select 
variations from the files, thereby creating new com- 
binations, or "solutions," to your problem. Unfor- 
tunately, this works best for problems limited 
enough to handle.with the unaided mind. Increas- 
ing the amount of data exponentially raises the 
number of potential combinations to be evaluated. 
.Theoretically, probes, are. generated until you ar- 
rive at .a combination that engenders a new idea, a 
new way of looking at the problem. Each variation 
possesses a. given, probability of occurrence; for 
example,. each of four variations on a theme has a 
25 percent chance of popping up in a probe. This 
percentagecan be adjusted to cause any bit of data 



to appear every time a probe is generated or not to 
appear at all. Whole problems of interest and any 
number of. generated combinations can be edited, 
saved, deleted, or sent to the printer with simple 
commands. '■-:.■■'":■■■■■ 

Brainstormer boasts many applications, includ- 
ing broadened thinking, identifying new-products 
and markets, and exploring personal and manage- 
rial problems. But unless so many factors are in- 
volved that they cannot be organized in your mind, 
this program does not seem to be an efficient way 
of solving problems. It takes too long to learn the 
program, too long to plug in all the data, and far 
too long to check out the thousands or millions of 
possible combinations that one problem of interest 
can produce.- - ,'■'...■ 

Requirements: TRS-80 Models I, 111, or 4, Apple II, 
CP/M;4BK RAM, /Wa>AS/G, two. disk drives .-■■ 
Soft Path Systems, $50. .-.- 

BUSINESS CHECKWRITER ; 

This prog ram is just what it claims to be: a check- 
writing system for small business. It prints checks 
and detailed stubs, which record invoice numbers, 
dates, expense description^! items in all. It pro- 
duces' ;a check register, records of payments 
against expense codes, a statement reconciliation, 
and a few lesser reports. ' ■■:.■. 

The program is menu-driven— not fast, but not 
slow enough to be bothersome. It will handle up to 
375 checks or deposits per pay period and nine 
deposits a day, up to 100 .expense and /payee 
codes. 

The first choice at the main menu, System Defi- 
nitions, leads to submenus for entry of company 
and bank information, expense and payee codes, 
and the status of the account being computerized. 
This start-up procedure is reasonably simple. 

Check Entry is relatively painless. The program 
assigns check -numbers, and you fill out the stan- 
dard information on screen. The recipient can be 
entered by payee code or by typing in the first ten 
characters of the name. Amounts up to $999,999.99 
may be entered. , . 

Check Details for the records and stub are filled 
in on another screen. For each, you may enter sev- 
eral invoice numbers and dates, expense codes, 
and the amount. The program automatically totals 
the entries andflashes an error message if they do 
not match. 

Checks and details may be edited or deleted until 



General Business 



75 



the checks are posted and details deleted. After 
that, voide.d checks must be adjusted for by a com- 
pensating check entry. Deposit entries are accom- 
odated in similar fashion. 

Printing checks is equally straightforward. 

There are a few problems with Businss Check- 
writer, however. Expense codes are limited to two 
digits, while most general ledgers use four or more. 
Posting the expense records to a ledger thus re- 
quires some translation. 

Error messages are sparse. The manual advises 
that COBOL errors "10-99, with the exception of 
94, indicate a problem with disks," and error. 94 is 
"file not found." And that's it 

It is hard to print forms other than the ones built 
in. Checks and stubs must be ordered in the pro- 
gram's own format. 

One more minor gripe: Menu choices calling for 
a one-key response require capital letters. Type a 
small "y" for "yes," and nothing happens. The pro- 
grammer could easily have fixed this. 

Business Checkwriter isn't exciting, and it seems 
a trifle overpriced. But it does its job reliably, with 
few inconveniences. If you have to write bunches 
of checks each month and your other programs do 
not print them, it may be useful. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model III or 4, 48K RAM, 
two disk drives, printer 
Radio Shack, $149.95 

THE DESK ORGANIZER 

:; A lot of time managers claim to make your work- 
ing day more efficient. Many are good at keeping 
track of appointments but fail because they are not 
used. When the phone rings, few people will leave 
one program and find, insert, and load the time 
manager and data disk, just to make a note to call 
Fred on Friday. Enter The Desk Organizer. Though 
not as sophisticated as some time managers, it 
works where others do not because it can share 
memory with most programs. Even when you're in 
the middle of a spreadsheet, a few keystrokes bring 
your daybook to the screen. ■ 

Once inside The Desk Organizer, the screen di- 
vides into seven areas, including clock, notepad, 
mode, file names, and commands. Although a little 
messy, it is workable and easy to move around in. 
The files are simple variable-length records in- 
dexed by a single title. You can browse through 
them for particular records. For "To Do" lists and 
appointments and- reminders, the program works 



with the clock; when the time comes, an alarm will 
sound even if The Desk Organizer is operating in 
background mode. 

Looking at functions alone, The Desk Organizer 
rates only better than average among time man- 
agement programs. But the best of them is no good 
if you don't use it. When you are using your word 
processor and suddenly have to note an appoint- 
ment, the chance to do it without abandoning your 
work is one you'll appreciate. 

The company claims that The Desk Organizer 
works "with 90 percent of available software." 
Check before buying. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM beyond that 
needed for coresident programs, two disk drives 
Conceptual Instruments, $250 

EXECUTIVE APPOINTMENT SECRETARY 

Executive Appointment Secretary is a cheap, 
simple, personal calendar management system 
with the look and feel of programs done in some- 
one's basement. Although it performs its stated 
functions decently, it lacks many aids and conve- 
niences offered by other systems. 

When first loaded, Executive Appointment Sec- 
retary willask for a three-letter ID that identifies 
your files. Then a calendar of the current month 
appears with today's date highlighted. You can 
move the cursor around the calendar or use func- 
tion keys to move to a different month. There is no 
onscreen prompt line describing the active keys, 
but a help screen is only a function key away. 

Behind each calendar date lie two screens, one 
for the morning schedule and one for the after- 
noon. They are preconfigured for 8:00 to 12:00 at 
15-minute intervals, but a separate configuration 
program can change this setting. Making an entry 
on a day screen puts -a signal on the calendar. You 
may code six different signals; establish a B to des- 
ignate birthdays, for example, and a "B" will ap- 
pear on the calendar. There is no way to access 
appointments other than by date, and execution is 
noticeably slow. 

. Except for repetitive schedules, which Executive 
Appointment Secretary only does tolerably well, 
there seems to be no advantage that this program 
has over a calendar. Look over other programs in 
this category, or just buy an appointment book. 
Requirements: IBM PC or Zenith Z-100, 32K RAM, 
one disk drive ■'■''.''.' 

Sunflower Software, $49.95 



76 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



THE EXECUTIVE PACKAGE 

Were you to take the course, "Microcomputer 
Applications in Business Management," as part of 
some university's MBA. program, chances are it 
wouid be no less thorough or demanding than 
Alpha Software Corp.'s The Executive Package— 
Computing with VisiCalc and BASIC. Through a se- 
ries of VisiCalc templates and short BASIC pro- 
grams, the use of a micro in a corporate 
environment is demonstrated most admirably. 

Employing the case-study method, you follow 
characters like Steven Cauldwell as he wends his 
way through marketing, inventory control, and 
other departments, whipping out his micro and 
solving problems in product mix, scheduling, 
growth, and distribution to the amazement and ad- 
miration of peers and managers. The emphasis is 
not so much on the hardware and software itself as 
it is on the use of them to solve common business 
problems. Do not think you can sit back and be 
entertained as graphics dance merrily across the 
screen. There is as much book studying as com- 
puter usage. This is definitely a no-nonsense ap- 
proach to learning how micros can be effectively 
used in business. 

If this sounds serious, it is. Spend 30 hours with 
The Executive Package, and you will know more 
ways to use micros in business than 95 percent of 
your peers. If that is your objective and you are 
Wiliing to put in the work, The Executive Package 
will reward you handsomely for your efforts. 
Requirements: IBM PC or MS-DOS, 64K RAM, disk 
drive, VisiCalc 
Alpha Software, $145 

FIELD COMPANION 

Field Companion is a stand-alone software pro- 
gram for the traveling business agent or profes- 
sional who needs accurate time logs, expense 
accounting, customer and product lists, and espe- 
cially quotation and invoicing capabilities. After 
entering the lists of products, customers, and 
prices, invoicing becomes extremely fast and sim- 
ple. With a new order, merely enter the Invoice file, 
and you have a blank invoice on the screen in front 
of you. Fill in the number/customer and date and 
the product code and then hit return. 

Field Companion takes data from the lists of cus- 
tomers, products and expenses and fills in the in- 
voice almost magically. The customer name, 
addresses, zip, phone, comments file, and the 



product number, price, discount, shipping, and 

time fees appear on the screen. One more hit of the 
return key, and all the tallying occurs, complete 
with bottom fine. Once the data is entered, an inter- 
mediate user can do an invoice in less than a min- 
ute. The system is very easy to learn and apply. It 
also provides a code word for confidential access 
to the customer files. Any version after 1982 is rec- 
ommended. 

Requirements: CP/M, 64K RAM, two disk drives 
Digital Marketing, $129 • 

KNOW YOUR CLIENT 

Know Your Client is a simple program that has 
but one function. If you must keep track of a list of 
clients, contacts, prospects, and so on, this pro- 
gram will fill your need well. 

Although the record format is fixed, it is so well 
thought out that this is not a significant handicap. 
In addition to the standard data held in any client 
file — name, address, telephone number, and such 
— KYC has such useful frills as a "common factors" 
entry. This feature permits you to choose up to 
twelve factors that may be shared by some of the 
names in the file. The format also includes space 
for both home and business addresses, the name 
of the contact's secretary, data of last contact, fol- 
low-up date, and three lines for general note-tak- 
ing. A single-sided disk will hold about 200 
records. 

The program allows searches for all or any of the 
primary entries, including name, company, zip 
code, and common factors. Thus, such things as 
age, college affiliation, hobbies, income bracket, or 
almost any other characteristic can be used to lo- 
cate or print out a list of contacts with common 
ties. The print option on the main menu allows the 
printing of a partial or complete report of all rec- 
ords in the file or a fixed-format mailing label. 

Know Your Client runs smoothly, it occupies a 
single disk and it requires only a small working 
memory. Ail in all, it is a nice little package for 
salespeople, stockbrokers, charity organizers, and 
others who need some way to keep track of a long 
list of acquaintances. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 48K RAM, one disk drive 
Execu ware, $92.95 

THE LANDLORD 

The Landlord is a moderately useful property 
management system promoted as suitable for both 



General Business 



77 



residential and commercial real estate. For resi- 
dential use, its limitations and inconveniences are 
not serious; For commercial properties, though, 
lack of accrual accounting and support for such 
items as square-foot — or gross-income — based 
rent calculations make this system questionable. 

The Landlord has two major systems, Property 
Manager and Financial Manager. Property Man- 
ager keeps track of properties, tenants, owners, 
and charges. Information kept on each is adequate. 
The tenant record, for example, includes such 
items as move-in date, lease expiration, and two 
lines of comments. 

The Landlord will automatically post rent debits 
to each tenant record on a monthly basis. There- 
after, you may post up to eight other transactions 
—rental payments, additional charges, forfeits, and 
so on. Printed output includes automatic state- 
ments, mailing labels, reports by properties, own- 
ers, delinquencies, and month-end summaries. 
Good reports are available, but there is no way to 
sort data for them. You cannot, for example, print 
tenant listings by name, nor can you generate aged 
delinquencies. ! 

Financial Manager is a fairly straightforward, sin- 
gle-entry bookkeeping system. Its predefined 
charts of accounts include 26 payment types, 45 
expense accounts, and 5 accounts for nontenant 
revenue sources. Account names can be custom- 
ized, but the numbering scheme and number of 
accounts are fixed. 

Again, this should be adequate for residential re- 
quirements; it may be too inflexible for complex 
commercial rentals. The most serious failing is the 
lack of accrual accounting. Income is generated 
only when received, not when posted. Printed out- 
put includes disbursements, check register, ac- 
count summaries, and property and tax analysis 
reports by property or owners. 

For simple property management, which should 
include most residential needs, The Landlord is a 
good system. Operation of The Landlord is menu- 
driVen and direct. The manual is well organized 
and clear, the program is easy to learn, and error- 
checking is thorough. However, the lack of sorted 
reports and conveniences for large numbers of 
units reduces The Landlord's value. More impor- 
tantly, many standard commercial requirements 
are omitted. Check this system's limitations thor- 
oughly before buying. 
Requirements: Apple II, 11 + , or lie, 48K RAM, DOS 



3.3; IBM PC, 128K RAM, BASRUN.EXE; two disk 

drives 

Systems Plus, $595 . 

MANAGING YOUR BUSINESS WITH 
LOTUS1-2-3 

This offering from Cdex is an explanation of 
basic business measurement equations and a se- 
ries of 1-2-3 spreadsheet templates with common 
business applications. The tutorial on basic busi- 
ness equations employs a modest sort of com- 
puter-aided instruction. Although there is no 
scoring of questions and the questions themselves 
are not altogether rigorous, each point is explained 
well enough. There is a sharp diversity In assumed 
knowledge, though, when you try the templates. A 
few lines of instruction written right into the tem- 
plate are the only explanation. 

The tutorial portion of Managing Your Business 
is a primer on business equations. There are chap- 
ters on return on equity, return on sales, asset 
turns, and financial leverage. Each is presented in 
a simple, easy manner using moving graphics, 
user-data input and periodic questioning. This is 
definitely beginner-level stuff— Man aging Your 
Business spends several screens defining terms 
like assets and sales. But for those who missed 
Business 101 in college, this will teach why each 
value is important. 

The second portion, the 7-2-3 spreadsheet, is 
also textbook material. There is a template for bud- 
geting, which includes items like travel, telephone, 
advertising, and research with budget and actual 
input. Other templates include sales history and 
forecast, balance sheet, cash-flow projection and 
profit and loss. There is a distinct lack of Instruc- 
tion on how these templates are to be used. 

Managing Your Business is an odd combination: 
a reasonable business equations primer matched 
with working, though instructionless, business 
templates. Would that Cdex supplied more thor- 
ough documentation to guide beginners; it would 
be a more valuable package. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, disk drive 
Cdex Corp., $69.95 ■. 

MANAGING YOUR BUSINESS WITH 
VISICALC; MANAGING YOUR BUSINESS 
WITH MULTIPLAN 

Managing Your Business with VisiCalc and the 
equivalent program for Multiplan are two in the se- 



78 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ries of Cdex Training programs available for many 
computers. Through a combination of disk-based 
tutorials and a training guide, both the new and 
experienced VisiCalc or Multiplan user is pre- 
sented with a system for learning to effectively use 
an electronic spreadsheet in analyzing and fore- 
casting many different business activities. 

Using the interactive tutorial and guidebook ex- 
ercises, the user is first acquainted with a variety of 
business performance measures. Next, Return on 
Equity (ROE) is discussed along with how it can be 
calculated using the spreadsheet. Other factors 
covered are Return on Sales, managing assets 
(Turns), and managing financial structure and its 
relation to leverage. 

After working with the tutorial and exercises, ten 
actual VisiCalc templates are provided for you to 
practice with and even modify to suit your own 
business. These include: Sales History and Fore- 
casting, Product Margins. and Forecasting, Depart- 
mental Expense Budgets, Profit and Loss 
Statement, Cash Flow Projections, Materials Re- 
quirements, Accounts Receivables and Payables, 
Balance Sheet and an ROE Profit Model. .... 

Also included is a listing of representative indus- 
try statistics on ROE, Turns, and ROS for a variety 
of businesses. ■ ■ 

Supplied on four diskettes, two contain the ten 
VisiCalc templates which may be copied and modi- 
fied. ::■-. 

Requirements: Apple II, 11 + ,. Me, or III, 48K RAM; 
IBM PC.TI Professional, DEC Rainbow, or Compaq 
computers, 64K RAM; disk drive; VisiCalc 
Cdex Cprp., $59.95 

PERFIN 

PerFin is an inexpensive, low-powered personal 
finance system that keeps track of checks and de- 
posits. After checking account debits and credits 
have been entered, the program will produce sum- 
maries of account activity, including analysis of 
payments in user-defined categories. It will also 
handle month-end reconciliation. 

The cost of PerFin is in line with the simplicity of 
the program, but there are many common financial 
transactions, including split checks and transfers, 
that cannot be processed; thus it is less of a bar- 
gain than it seems. '■■■ 

The setup and operation of PerFin is very 
straightforward. You define up to 40 accounts, 
either regular or .debt, and the monthly budget 



There is no provision for seasonal variations, say, 
when setting up a summer gardening supplies or 
Christmas expense account. When entering check- 
book transactions, PerFin allow you to specify 
whether sales tax was included in the price and 
tracks the tax portion separately. This is handy 
when itemizing deductions for April 15th. Report 
options include listings for the month or by cate- 
gory, with or without forecasted budget. There is a 
simple bar chart also provided. Documentation is 
rather modest but adequate considering the sim- 
plicity of the program. 

When compared against more sophisticated 
(and expensive) personal finance systems, PerFin 
lacks many features. Think of it more as a simple 
way to/ecord checks and deposits, and it becomes 
a viable, although limited, alternative. .. 
Requirements; IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive ..- 
DEG Software, $65 : ; ... : ..• 

PERSONAL DATEBOOK 

Calendar management is a dubious use for com- 
puters. Because; updates happen without warning 
during the day and require immediate action, al- 
most exclusive use of your micro is required. In 
addition, the program itself must be very usable. 
This is not the case with Personal Datebook, Al- 
though adequate in function, it is very slow,. not. 
very flexible, and prone to errors. , ; : ■/ 

After defining the particular work schedules (in- 
tervals between appointments, start/stop time) for 
up to nine people, you enter up to 30 characters of 
description next to the time slot. Each entry must 
be an appointment; there is no provision for non- 
scheduled notes or reminders. You may search out 
time slots open both for you and for other users, 
making it easy to schedule conferences. Calendars 
may be printed out ,''v.- 

Personal Datebook has many problems, it is slow 
in operation. Moving ahead one day at a time 
causes the screen to rewrite very slowly. This 
makes scanning tedious. There is limited flexibility. 
Working schedules are only 12 hours long, and 
once you set the interval between appointments, 
they cannot be altered. Personal Datebook keeps 
no history of past appointments. You must teil it to 
print out schedules from prior dates when you key 
in the current date; otherwise it erases prior calen- 
dars automatically. Finally, the adaptation from its 
8-bit beginning to 1 6-bit offerings is sloppy. Hitting 
function keys causes unexpected results, often 



General Business 



79 



crashing the program. There are many better time- 
management systems on the market. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , lie, or III in emulation 
mode; IBM PC; 64K RAM, disk drive 
Digital Marketing Corp., $300 

PERSONAL SECRETARY 

Personal Secretary is an appointment and ex- 
pense-log system "designed to be an automated 
executive's diary." it has the" standard features 
found on most personal scheduling systems, but 
poor documentation and quite a few problems in 
operation, : ' 

You begin Personal Secretary with a calendar of 
the current month and move the cursor to highlight 
the day for your entry. Once in the desired day, you 
enter appointments or reminders. All must be, as- 
signed a time in the format 00:00 a.p., even notes 
like "Today is Kent's birthday." Personal Secretary 
allows oniy two expense categories— an extremely 
limiting recording feature for "automated execu- 
tives"— but at least you can total them for User- 
specified time periods.. There is a case-sensitive 
search facility, and a few types of recurring events 
can be automatically posted. 

These features sound at least mildly promising, 
in practice, many do not live up to their possibili- 
ties.. Personal Secretary is written in BASIC, and 
even though it is compiled, response time often 
becomes noticeable, sometimes several seconds 
long.. . 

The manual is an inferior piece of documenta- 
tion, confusing and poorly written, though a few 
helpful screen prompts do partially offset this. For 
example, when. you, reach the capacity of a data 
diskette ("timefile" in Personal Secretary argot) 
you are prompted to produce anew diskette so as 
not to lose data. However, such minor conve- 
niences are not enough. Although Personal. Secre- 
tary is relatively inexpensive, its quality makes it 
poor value. ;"■: 

Requirements: MS-DOS, 64K' RAM, two disk drives.. 
Computer.Aided Design, $54.95. . 

PLANFIN 

PLANFIN is a financial forecasting and budget- 
ing package that generates operating income 
statements, net income and discounted cashflow 
analyses, and data input summaries. For the busi- 
nessman, PLAN FIN's most attractive feature is its 



ability to do extensive testing of revenues and ex- 
penses. 

PLANFIN, like its cousin PROFIN, asks the user 
questions. No formulae need be created by the 
user. PLANFIN, with its 30 categories of revenues 
and costs, creates a detailed P&L, but does not 
provide such PROFIN reports as capital expendi- 
ture schedules and interest schedules, i 

PLANFIN allows the businessperson to test as- 
sumptions about production, sales, pricing, financ- 
ing, inflation, foreign exchange, ! and other such 
business factors, and to view the resultant P&L 
PLANFIN's consolidation program accepts sepa- 
rate divisional budgets, and then melds them into a 
corporate plan; ■■■'.■■ -.. : - : ' : - : "- 

The user may input up to 30 separate product 
lines, entering data for each, or set a base quantity 
with an annual percentage growth rate. Afteraseli- 
ing price is input for each product, PLA NFIN asks 
for an inflation rate, then automatically applies this 
to selling prices and costs. ■■■■'■■ 

For each product listed, PLANFIN will accept up 
to 30 related costs. These may be input in any com- 
bination of five ways: cost per unit, percentage of 
revenues, percentage of another cost, a fixed cost 
per period, or specific payments, i.e., data for each 
period. '■."■ 

Interest and depreciation amounts must be input 
as data. Taxes are computed from Federal and 
state rates input by the user, with tax carryforwards 
applied if the user chooses this.option. 

PLANFIN allows extensive testing of revenues 
and. expenses, but that is all it does. As an initial 
planning tool, its benefit is the large number of 
products and costs that can be manipulated. After 
that, users are. on their own. For example, PLAN- 
FIN does not provide a loan/interest scheduler nor 
does it have the capacity to calculate. depreciation 
given a capital budget and depreciation informa- 
tion. {PROFIN does). The user must calculate Inter- 
est and depreciation and then input these amounts 
as data. PLANFIN does not generate a sources and 
uses of funds schedule, nor does it produce a bal- 
ance sheet. PLANFIN does, however, interface with 
Multfplan, VisiCalc, and SuperCalc, allowing the 
user to do additional mathematical manipulations. 
Requirements: CP/M-80 or IBM PC 
Business Software, $295 = 

PROFIN 

PROFIN is a financial report generator for in- 



80 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



come statements,: interest schedules, capital ex- 
penditure reports, tax schedules, return on equity 
schedules, discounted cash flows, and abbreviated 
balance sheets. Unlike such electronic spread 
sheets as VisiCalc and SuperCalc, where users 
must supply their own formulas and formatting, 
PROFIN asks simple questions and offers options, 
then sets up the math for you and automatically 
generates the reports in 32-coiumn format.; 
PflOF/tywiir manipulate up to 1 5 products, each 
: of which can be matched with. the same number of 
expense categories; similarly, it allows up to 15 
separate capital purchases, categories of equity, 
and different loans. By changing any entry, the 
user can see how altering an assumption affects 
the bottom line. For a businessperson trying to 
evaluate a product mix or a pricing strategy or 
wanting, an overview of a capital expenditure plan 
supported by various levels of debt and equity, 
PROFIN can be a valuable. tool. 

.. For the P&L, the user either enters data for price 
information or simply,supplies a starting price and 
growth assumptions, after listing different product 
lines. The user then assigns up to 15 expense items 
to each of these products, using any combination 
of five options: cost per unit, percent of revenue, . 
percent of another cost, fixed cost or entering data. 
Data or option selected. may be changed at a later 
date. PBOFIN also asks for an inflation rate, which 
: is then automatically applied, to both revenues and 
expenses. /.=v /:.:-.,;■■■■ ',■"". ■.■■.v : -, : . 

Interest and taxes are automatically fed to the 
income statement, and specific schedules are pro- 
duced for each. To compute interestr and the re- 
sulting schedule,. the user lists up to 15 different 
loans, specifying drawdown schedules, 'interest 
rates, ..= and methods of repayment. To compute 
taxes, the user specifies both Federal and state 
rates, and PROFIN automatically creates loss car- 
ryforwards and utilizes investment, tax credits .as 
calculated in the capital expenditure budget. ■ 

For capital purchases, the user lists .items to be 
bought, selects either straight-line or declining- 
.balance depreciation, and states the depreciable 
life and the rate, of investment tax credit. PROFI N 
then produces a/detailed capital expenditure bud-, 
get. For equity, the user specifies., different types, 
and PROFIN calculates internal rate of return, ef- 
fective yield, and payback period. PROFIN pro- 
duces a discounted cash flow after the user 
supplies a discount rate. PROFI N transfers the net 



cash flow amount into cash on its abbreviated bal- 
ance sheet (cash, fixed assets, loans and equity). 

PROFIN reports can be interfaced ;with Multi- 
plan, VisiCalc or SuperCalc, allowing further ma- 
nipulation of data. However; -after manipulating 
information on an electronic spreadsheet, the user 
must manually change the PROFIN inputs to gen- 
erate a new report. . ■ ■* 
Requirements: CP/M-BO, IBM PC, or MS-DOS ■ 
Business Software, $295 

PROPERTY LISTINGS AND 
COMPARABLES 

Property Listings and Comparables is a fixed- 
purpose database program used to maintain real 
estate listings and to search out and print entries 
that meet certain criteria. 

Along with the address and asking price of the 
property, the system records the number of bed- 
rooms or units, square footage, baths, age, lot size, 
and. percent down payment. For income properties, 
a category for monthly income and expenses is in- 
cluded. A memo field of 40 characters allows for 
any notes or information pertinent to the listing. 
Additionally the listing and expiry dates, date sol?, 
and selling price can be entered. 

Information can be. retrieved either by record 
number or by searching for records that match 
your criteria. Allowable criteria include maximum/ 
minimum price, city name, code, number of bed- 
rooms/units, memo line,; maximum price/income 
(for , income properties), maximum .price/square 
foot, and minimum monthly cash flow. Search re- 
sults can only be sent to a printer in an 80-column 
format that uses 11 lines per listing. It is too bad 
that the users cannot select between screen and 
printer. It is also unfortunate that compressed 
printing or wide-carriage printers cannot be used 
to put more listings on each page. 

this package suffers other shortcomings. In par- 
ticular, there is no way to put the user's company. 
name on the printed reports, instead of the. pro- 
gram title and manufacturer's name. The printer 
slot number and line-feed option must be entered 
at each start up, along with the default data drive; a 
configuration should have been used. During entry 
of a listing, you cannot back up to;a previous entry; 
you must complete the screen form and then do it 
over. The Code field, is very restrictive in that, it 
allows only four characters. And when searching 
either it or the Memo fields, substring searches are 



General Business 



81 



not allowed; you can't find the POOL in SWIMMING 
POOL Finally, if the Reset; -key is accidentally 
pressed, the program bombs, forcing a restart. This 
should have been avoided. .:. 

■'■ Documentation is adequate, consisting of 29 
pages in a looseleaf, binder. The manual was writ- 
ten primarily for CP/M users and has a lot of text 
that Apple, IBM/and TRS-80 users do not need. 

While the program performedas advertised, it 
seems overpriced for what it does. Many general- 
purpose database programs are available for less 
than half the price of this one. They could do the 
same job, offer more features, and perform other 
tasks as well. .■■ ".': : .' :: '' ; -' ■■■:■.■-■';■: ■■■.?: vY. ;. 

Requirements: Apple il,;|| + - or lie; CP/M-80; IBM 
PC; or TRS-80 Model I, II, II), or 4; disk drive, 80- 

■ column printer 
Realty Software Co., $425 ; . : -.- 

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT 

Property Management Is a flexible, comprehen- 
sive, and easy-to-use rear estate system. Suitable 
for both residential and commercial income-pro- 
ducing property, Property Management is set up 
with defaults so that beginnersand those with sim- 
ple requirements can use it without heavy customi- 
zation. At the same time, it is possible to produce a 
highly tailored system with reports and analysis 
.geared to specific situations. 

The basic files in Property Management are the 
same as in other real estate management systems, 
but they offer to store much more-useful informa- 
tion. In the rental-unit file, ;for example, there are 
fields to record not just type of unit and monthly 
rent, but such optional information as the number 
of rooms and baths, square footage, and rate per 
square foot, which is used for commercial rentals. 
This makes the system useful when marketing the 
property. The record layout for tenants has handy 
categories for secondary mailing addresses, which 
might be used when renting summerapartments. 

Property Management features a great deal of 
built-in flexibility. Rather than post rental debits all 
at once, users may specify rent dates. Late charges 
may be posted by the system, automatically charg- 
ing rents calculated by gross income and assess- 
ments either by unit or by square foot. The reports, 
which include owner listings, unit-type -listings, 
tenant payments, and statements and lease expira- 
tion, may be sorted and. ordered in a variety of 
ways.: Rent delinquency, Tor example, 1 may be 1 by 



tenant or age. The chart of accounts is user-de- 
fined. 7 :.-'/': • ■. ■';"'-■ ; ; *: ■ 

Yet, though. the system may be highly tailored, it 
remains easy to use. The menus guide operators 
through each step and will not move on until- com- 
plete transactions are logged. The sequence for 
month-end processing," often ; a difficult and error- 
prone step, ensures that an. accurate status of 
rental monies is produced. Error checking is thor- 
OUgh.vi "•; Y ;■.'■':■ ■...:■■ ■'■■■!.•:.' =■;=; ■:,.■.■.■■. ■■:,.--:.| !:;.:;:■ = .■.; . : 

. Documentation is exceptional. Both as an. in- 
structional guide and as a reference source, the 
manual is clear, complete, and easy to follow. 
Property Management should be set up by the 
most knowledgeable manager in order to achieve 
maximum benefit. Once done, however, it can be 
learned and operated by relatively unskilled per- 
sonnel. Serving a variety of residential/commercial 
environments, Property Management is simply one 
of the best real estate management systems on the 
market. =■;■:.■:■■.""■■; 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
Continental Software, $495 ■ 

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM 

Designed for both property owners and man- 
agers, Property Management System will keep 
track of rental income and expenses, manage cash 
flow, and provide many different management re- 
ports/ ',■ V : /;' ::•' ■.■.■' : ":-.;:. :■ .:' : ; .■■■■■;■ v": ! Y Yo ■'•;■:':■ 

The program consists of three separate modules: 
Income program, Expense program, and Operating 
Statement program. Expense and Income data are 
stored on disk. as separate files, which are loaded 
in.memory one at a time. In the Apple II system, up 
to 215 rental units and 597 expenses can be kept in 
each file. Separate files can be maintained for dif- 
ferent properties, and the number of files per disk 
is I i m ited o n ly by d isk capacity. '■-" 

Operation is straightforward. The income section 
keeps a file on each rental unit, including up to 
three namesj addresses, phone numbers, memo/ 
rent/lease date, rent amount, deposits, number of 
returned checks, and a vacancy report. A Late Rent 
Report (ists all delinquent tenants as well as 
amount due, deposits, phone numbers, and memo 
information. A summary total of all rents collected 
and overdue along with total rents is printed at the 
bottom of the report. A Year-to-Date Income Report 
shows income received to date for each unit plus 
total forthe year. ■'■'■. ■"■■.;■■ 



82 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



The Expense program will separately keep track 
of expenses for each property. Up to 100 different 
accounts can be used, and you can search for any 
or all accounts, payees, or months on file. Checks 
may.also be printed from within the program using 
universal blank check forms. A buiiding-by-build- 
ing comparison report of utilities, gas, water, trash, 
and so on, along with the average monthly cost of 
each is provided. Accumulated -expenses by each 
building under the category of repairs, interest, in- 
surance, property taxes, and utilities is printed in-a 
Tax Totals Report. 

: The last program takes data from the Income and 
Expense sections and produces an Operating 
Statement Statements for each. building as well as 
a consolidated statement for aii properties can be 
printed. Along with load payments (principal), 
month-to-date and year-to-date income and ex- 
penses are detailed. Breakdown is by account 
name, with percentages shown. 

The program is very easy to operate; however, 
you must be careful in your disk file names and 
housekeeping. Income and expenses are main- 
tained in separate files, but the program does not 
prevent you from using the same names; thus, you 
could easily wipe out a file. The reports are nicely 
done, but instead of your own company name, the 
manufacturer's name is imprinted across the top of 
each report. .■■■■■■.-' 

The operating manuai consists of 16 pages in a 
loose-leaf binder with sample reports. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, IBM PC,TRS-80 
Model III or 4, or CP/M; 48K RAM, disk drive, 80- 
column printer ■'■'■'■'".: 

Realty Software Co., Apple and TRS-80 versions 
$450; IBM and CP/M versions $525 >. : 

RESTAURANT PROFIT ANALYSIS 

Restaurant Profit Analysis (RPA) is a comprehen- 
sive management tool for the restaurant business, 
it reports on profits, preparation costs, and sales 
trends on individual menu items. High volume, low 
profit/menu items are identified, so prices can be 
increased accordingly. 

/Ingredient inventories are tracked, providing the 
owner with concise reports of quantities, costs, 
weekly usage, minimum stock levels, and items 
that need reordering. -If a particular ingredient's 
price increases drastically, a Trace Report will 
show all menu items containing that ingredient so 
prices can be adjusted accordingly. Pilferage, 



losses, and poorly defined recipes can easily be 
revealed by comparing computed versus actual 
quantities, dollars, and percentage. 

Daily sales are entered either by individual tick- 
ets or in batches. A Daily Sales Report shows the 
number of tickets, total sales, average sale amount, 
tax collected, and waiter/waitress production. A de- 
tailed Transaction Report provides a complete 
analysis of production costs, weekly sales, and 
year-to-date sales showing quantities and dollar 
value sold, percent of sales, profit amount and per- 
cent, and profit/sales ratio. 

Recipes are easily defined within the system, 
using units such as ounces, slices, and teaspoons. 
Each menu item can contain up to 20 ingredients. 
A recipe list prints a complete breakdown of each 
menu item, showing each ingredient, quantity, 
cost, labor cost, production cost, suggested price, 
and menu price. 

The Restaurant Profit Analysis system can han- 
dle up to 200 menu items per disk, with no limit on 
the number of disks, and up to 200 ingredients and 
30 waiters or waitresses. Lunch and dinner menus 
may be kept. on separate data disks but will work 
off the same ingredient database, thus permitting 
an unlimited number of recipes. [■. '■■.. 

Restaurant Profit Analysis produces a great num- 
ber of printed reports, some of which require a 132- 
column printer. A Config program is included to 
allow the user to set up the control codes required 
for the particular printer being used. 

A highly detailed large-format instruction manual 
is included along with sample report printouts. Di- 
rect customer support is available from the manu- 
facturer. Well thought-out, Restaurant Profit 
Analysis should pay for itself very quickly in most 
restaurant operations. 

A CP/M based version scheduled for release at 
the end of the first quarter in 1984 will support 
touch-screen data entry, an automatic cash 
drawer, and remote printers for point-of-sale oper- 
ation.- 

Requirements:, Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
or lie, 48K RAM, disk drive, 132-column printer. 
Supports Apple Dot matrix and most other printers 
Computer Systems Design, $495 

SALESMINDER 

Current information is important to any business. 
This is especially true in a business that depends 
on retail sales. Correctly recording sales and know- 



General Business 



83 



ing immediately which products are moving and 
which are not, can make the difference between a 
store that is profitable, and one that isn't. Large 
stores have known this for years; hence the popu- 
larity of computer-driven point-of-sale terminals in 
many department stores and supermarkets. 

With the advent of reasonably priced microcom- 
puter systems, this capability is now available to 
even the smallest stores. SalesMinder replaces 
your cash register with a micro and an electrically 
locked cash drawer. Used by itself, the software 
turns your computer into an ultra-intelligent point- 
of-sale terminal. Completely menu-driven, Sales- 
Minder guides your sales clerks in entering infor- 
mation about the sale. Upon entering a product 
number and quantity, the system automatically 
brings up the price, description,, and extension. 
Sales tax is automatically calculated and the soft- 
ware is- capable of printing either an invoice or a 
sales ticket, which closely resembles a cash regis- 
ter receipt. 

With most of the systems this.software runs on, a 
bar code reader can be used. This enables the 
sales clerk to enter the product number directly 
into the system with a quick pass of the bar-code 
wand. This speeds the check-out process and en- 
sures greater accuracy. SalesMinder is able to print 
price labels in both human and machine readable 
form. SalesMinder also makes good use of the spe- 
cial function keys of the systems it runs on. It even 
includes a self-stick label to identify. the new func- 
tions assigned to each of the keys. : 

While SalesMinder is a useful adjunct to your 
sales force, its real power lies in the reports it gen- 
erates. While not extensive in number, they provide 
you with information vital in running your busi- 
ness. The Transaction Listing is a complete record 
of all sales transactions. The Daily Sales Report 
allows you to track which items are your best (and 
worst) movers, and the composition of your sales 
(cash, credit card, COD, and so on). The "Salesper- 
son Report" is useful to judge the performance of 
your sales force. 

SalesMinder also generates a Register Recap 
(very helpful in making up sales tax reports), and 
check and credit card listings which help in making 
up your bank deposits. 

The software installs and runs easily. It can be 
used on either a floppy- or hard-disk system. A 
hard-disk system is preferable if you have a large 
number of daily transactions or stock a wide variety 



of items. SalesMinder integrates well with Stock- 
Minder, XtrasSoft's inventory management soft- 
ware, and with MaiiMinder, a mailing list and 
customer profile system. 

SalesMinder is a well-done vertical-market soft- 
ware package. It is specifically designed to provide 
point-of-sale capabilities for a retail store. It is well 
designed, and easy to install and use. it is signifi- 
cantly enhanced, however, by the addition of 
XtraSofts inventory package, StockMinder, and 
you wouid be best off considering the pair of them, 
rather than just SalesMinder by itself. 
Requirements: IBM PC, PC-XT, Compaq, NCR Per- 
sonal Computer, TeleVideo 806, 816, or 1603, Tl 
Personal Computer, Victor 9000, or Zenith Z100; 
MS-DOS or MM MOST operating system (Tele- 
Video), 192K RAM, two high-capacity drives or hard 
disk, printer, RS-232 port if cash drawer or optical 
bar-code reader is implemented 
XtraSoft does not publish a recommended list 
price. The price is set by the dealer and usually 
includes support, 



SHOEBOX 

Shoebox is a personal-scheduling system that 
acts as an electronic appointment book, tracking 
daily "to dos" and keeping a record of your activi- 
ties. Shoebox is divided into several major areas. 
The first is the daily Reminder system, which is the 
first display to appear on the screen after sign on. 
This screen lists the date and your chores, both 
for today and for previous days' entries that have 
not been marked as completed. Entries for a given 
day are made by keying in a "C" (for Change) on 
the first line. They can be up to 63 characters in 
length. 

Once you make an entry in the Reminder section, 
it must be marked as completed; otherwise, it will 
appear tomorrow, and the next day, and on and on. 
This may be the most useful feature of personal- 
scheduling systems and of Shoebox in particular. 
When you tell Shoebox you have something to do 
on a certain date, it hounds you. until you mark the 
task as complete. 

Another system is the appointments section, 
which closely resembles the Reminder display, ex- 
cept that the Reminder is free-form while time in- 
tervals are listed in the appointments. Appointment 
entry includes the following data: start/stop date, 
beginning/ending time, repeat information, and 



84 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



alert notices. Scheduling an appointment that be- 
gins at 9:30 and runs until 12:15 will erase those 
time slots on the appointment display. 

The repeat field (which also pertains to Re- 
minder) instructs Shoebox to post entries automat- 
ically to future dates. For example, if you have a 
regular department meeting on Wednesdays at 
9:30, Shoebox wili mark your calendar accordingly. 
Items may be reentered at daily, weekly, or monthly 
intervals, and the program provides for such odd 
recurrences as the third Friday of every month. 
Alert notices will warn you a specified number of 
days ahead of given items. 

The last area of Shoebox is the expense-record- 
ing system. Items are entered for each day and con- 
tain an account number, description, user- 
assigned category codes, and comments. Once en- 
tries are made, Shoebox has reporting facilities 
that allow you to prepare listings by account and 
category for specified time intervals. You can also 
search your entries in all areas for a given charac- 
ter string. For example, you can list all entries per- 
taining to Fred Smith. 

Shoebox is extremely easy to use. To get from 
one day to another, for example, you can either key 
in the exact date, or hit the Cursor-Right key to 
move you sequentially. Shoebox greets you by 
name and has downright friendly prompts. It even 
offers more assistance if it determines that you 
haven't used the system in a while. The manual is a 
good learning guide but is incomplete as a refer- 
ence source. All in all, this is a friendly, well-de- 
signed, and — save for the manual— a complete 
personal-scheduling system. 
Requirements: IBM PC, Columbia, Compaq, Co- 
rona, Eagle, Victor 9000, 128K RAM, disk drive 
Techland Systems, $195 



TIME MANAGER 

This IBM offering, written by Microsoft, is a good 
example of a high quality, single-purpose program. 
Time Manager begins by displaying a calendar of 
the current month, which it reads from the date you 
key in when you boot up your operating- system. 
Days highlighted have appointments or "to do" en- 
tries. To see or make entries for a day, you move 
the cursor underneath and hit ENTER. To get to 
different months, you can hit PGUP or PGDN to 
move one month at a time, or specify the exact 
month and year and go there directly. Once in a 



day, you can enter appointments with times, per- 
sonal reminders, and "to dos." An "alarm clock" 
entry will beep the computer's tone generator at 
specified dates and times. 

With each entry can be added attributes — a 
priority code, a "P" for permanent annual events 
(like birthdays), and one of 26 category codes. 
These categories will allow you later to search your 
calendar for items associated with a certain sub- 
ject. Once an item has been completed, it can be 
marked as done. Unmarked items will show up on 
subsequent days until marked. 

When making entries, Time Manager follows a 
format quite common among personal-scheduling 
programs— you first insert a blank line, then fill it 
in. Entries. may contain account references, nu- 
meric items that transcend categories— tax de- 
ductible expenses are one example. Time Manager 
gives you the ability to use nine accounts. Later on, 
you can ask for account totals for given periods. 
Promotional materials state that "you can enter the 
total number of hours logged on individual proj- 
ects, for cataloguing and studying business ex- 
penses or sales call patterns, or simply for verifying 
your telephone bills." This is true, though not quite 
as easy as it sounds. 

Besides daily entries, there are "notepads," 
blank screens which you can use to jot down un- 
scheduled items— names and addresses, for ex- 
ample. . 

Personal-scheduling programs do not just orga- 
nize your day, they keep a record of your activities. 
Say you want to see what you've done for a client. 
There are various ways to browse through your en- 
tries selectively to locate the relevant ones. Time 
Manager lets you specify category, priorities, or 
keywords. You may also print selective items within 
periods you specify. . 

Time Manager has several weak points. Only sin- 
gle-sided diskettes are allowed, a rather senseless 
restriction. The manual, while sufficiently explana- 
tory, is not indexed well enough to provide a useful 
reference. 

Used regularly, Time Manger could make you re- 
lentlessly efficient. It never forgets appointments, 
retains a history of your actions, and nags you until 
you tell it you've completed your chores. The cate- 
gory and account designations make it noteworthy 
among personal-scheduling packages. .-. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive 
Microsoft, $100 .. 



General Business 



85 



TIMEMONEY MANAGER 

VmeMoney Manager is a companion to Human 
Engineered. Software's OmniCalc package. Like 
Omm'Calc, it contains two personal productivity 
programs, Fin an ce*64 and Schedule*64. 

Finance*64 is a very good program for personal 
investment. It offers seven routines for loan, pay- 
back, and buy-vs.-lease analysis, as well as calcu- 
lation programs for the future value of ordinary 
annuities, value of annuities due (payments in ad- 
vance), and future/present values. Used to figure a 
mortgage, the loan analysis routines yielded fig- 
ures that a savings-and-loan company pronounced 
right on the money, varying only by a few cents. 
Buy-vs.-lease analysis is a more elementary matter, 
but is visualized nicely. The remainder of the cal- 
culation portions appear to be straightforward and 
easy to use. Your own use for Finance*64 will de- 
pend on whether or not you already know how to 
perform these kinds of complex arithmetic calcula- 
tions. The advantage here is that the program takes 
care of the math and can print out long. payment 
schedules for any loan. 

The purpose of Schedule*64 is to create a kind of 
electronic datebook into which appointments and 
reminders can be entered. This is a difficult pro- 
gram to use and requires so much keypunching 
that you'll soon wonder whether it is worth the 
trouble. It's much easier to buy a notebook to keep 
track of things. 

Besides that, Schedule*64 is an incredibly de- 
manding program, always wanting more informa- 
tion before it does what it should. One of its 
functions, for example, is to scan the calendar and 
look for the next available appointment. This would 
be handy if the program didn't require you to enter 
the beginning and end dates to scan, the times of 
the day in 24-hour notation, the length of the time 
block you're looking for, and, for some reason, the 
time and length of your lunch break. 
Requirements: Commodore 64, one disk drive 
Human Engineered Software, $29.95 

THE 25TH HOUR— 25:01 TIME 
SCHEDULER/ORGANIZER 

The 25th Hour is a personal-scheduling system. 
It offers some useful features for managing your 
calendar, but is maddeningly slow in operation and 
lacks many record-keeping and accounting details 
found in other programs of this type. 

In the calendar-keeping process itself, you may 



specify both one-time and recurring events, have 
the system alert you several days before items 
come due, and search for available blocks of time. 
You can schedule events for any number of individ- 
uals, the only restriction being a limit of 99,999 en- 
tries. 

Weighing down these advantages are some se- 
vere design problems. Perhaps worst, there is no 
way to display daily calendars; you can only print 
them. Editing is cumbersome^ Existing entries can 
be accessed only, through a system-assigned rec- 
ord number, which shows up only in printed out- 
put In order to change an item, you must first print 
it out. There is no way to search for items, nor is 
there any way to track expenses. 

The biggest failing of The 25th Hour, though, is 
its speed, or lack of it. Because it is written in 
BASIC, everything from initial load, item entry, 
even simple menu changes take at least several 
seconds. If you specify some of The 25th Hour's 
more useful features, like automatic weekly events, 
be prepared to wait several minutes. Because of 
these inefficiencies in design, the limitations due 
to missing search functions, and, most signifi- 
cantly, its lack of speed, this program cannot be 
recommended. 

Requirements: IBM PC/64K RAM 
Softrend, $99 ■■■■.* 



VISISCHEDULE 

If you have ever managed a complex project 
where many people in different areas were in- 
volved, hundreds of details needed tracking, man- 
power was short, due dates were missed, and 
deadlines always loomed, you can understand the 
benefits of VisiSchedule, the leading project-man- 
agement program from VisiCorp. Simply stated, 
you enter key information about tasks, costs, dead- 
lines and resources, update the information when 
items (usually dates) change, and VisiSchedule will 
let you know how it affects you r project. 

Project "set-up" information allows for job spec- 
ifications, job locations, milestones, and time pe- 
riods; A resource database covers skill categories 
of personnel and up to 9 tasks for each, up to 9 
prerequisites, and task durations up to 999 unjts. 
Costs may be measured in whole, thousands, or 
millions of currency units. 

The number of tasks is limited by the size of 
memory. You may manage up to 50 with 64K. If you 



86 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



have 96K or more, Visi Schedule will allow 150 
tasks. 

Once the Information is In, VisiSchedule auto- 
matically displays the critical path, the series of 
tasks that determine the length of the project, total 
manpower and direct costs, and start, finish and 
completion dates for each task. Should any task 
slip in completion date, ail dependent tasks are ad- 
justed. Moreover, instant recalculation of the entire 
project to compensate for any changes make 
"what if" projections easy and allows quick evalu- 
ation of tradeoffs. The entire project can be shifted 
by a specific time interval or to a particular date. 

Printed report options include Gantt charts, cost 
summaries by skill categories, schedule graphs, 
task-prerequisite lists, milestone charts, job de- 
scription, and project-description reports. One fea- 
ture matches manpower resources, against the 
task, a process called "leveling." VisiSchedule will 
offer solutions to eliminate resource overloads. 

VisiSchedule is menu driven. While this provides 
a better learning method and is easier to follow for 
beginners, experienced users will probably long 
for the direct efficiency of a command structure. 
Functionally, VisiSchedule has a few limitations. 
Some actions that would facilitate entering specifi- 
cations — for example, the ability to enter standard 
sets of tasks into project-wide schedules — are 
lacking. They are not crucial, however. Documen- 
tation is thorough and includes a reference card 
and a blueprint design of the menu structure. ■'..'■ 

If you manage projects now, you probably do 
manually the function of VisiSchedule, However, 
not only can VisiSchedule instantly tell the impact 
of changes, it also tracks costs and offers sugges- : 
tions for. making the best manpower resource utili- 
zation. VisiSchedule cannot manage projects for 
you. It can, however, give you an accurate and con- 
tinuous perspective of where you stand. 
Requirements: IBM PC, Compaq, Corona, Apple II 
or ill, 64K RAM, disk drive ...... 

VisiCorp, $300 : ,,...-, ..■ .■'■. 



JANELLE BEDKE, VICE-PRESIDENT 
OF SOFTWARE PUBLISHING 

Trial-size bottles of hair spray you've heard 
of, but Software Publishing Corp. made mi- 
crocomputer history with trial-size versions of 
its new word processing program, says J a- 
nelle Bedke, company cofounder and vice- 
president of sales and marketing. .' 

"The version of the disk we gave away 
doesn't allow you to print or save, but custom- 
ers got a chance to try it and get the feel," 
says Bedke, 35, who established the privately 
held firm in 1980 with two former colleagues 
from Hewlitt-Packard— Fred Gibbons, now 
president; and John Page, vice-president of 
research and development. 

The result: The four-year-old firm now has 
six major products and took in some $14 mil- 
lion last year. ■■■ : . 

"To introduce : pfs:write, We distributed 
more than 100,000 of the trial disks and took 
out full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal," 
she recalls. "The response was very strong." 

Software Publishing has been courting a 
"Procter & Gamble" jmage, Bedke explains. 
The reason? "Software is a consumer product 
as well as a computer product, so we apply 
consumer marketing techniques even with 
the company's business-oriented software," 
Bedke says. At Software Publishing, she has 
continued to focus on the user. 

To this end, marketing people were hired 
from Del Monte and P & G and coupled with 
the expected high-tech experts from Silicon 
Valley. ... 

After graduating from the University of Utah 
in computer science and math, Bedke worked 
in software development and design at Hew- 
litt-Packard, concentrating especially on 
"user interface." '. . ■ 



87 



INTEGRATED PACKAEI 



Productivity is a key issue today. With market 
share eroding in many basic industries, foreign 
competition producing ever-cheaper products, 
quality consciousness on the rise, and thoughts of 
.recent recessions in our mind, managers are look- 
ing for any answer to the productivity problem. 
Enter stage left— the Integrated Program. A pro- 
gram that, combines several important functions 
into one easily used package. A program that al- 
lows a manager or a clerical worker to perform 
many more tasks in a shorter period of time. A pro- 
gram that is fun to use and one that inspires crea- 
tivity in all but the dullest of workers. 

Is this the answer? Probably not, but it seems to 
beat out whatever is in second place. Is this kind of 
software without problems? No, not even close. 
Ask any data processing department or manage- 
ment information system manager, and you will 
hear about the fragmentation of critically important 
databases onto hundreds of small computers, with 
no hope of ever fitting all of this important infor- 
mation back together again, where it is really 
needed. If the local user programs his or her own 
spreadsheet and then uses the information to make 
a critically important decision, that sounds great. 
But what if the mathematical formulas are incor- 
rect? In the controlled, structured environment of 
the data processing department, enough people 
look at the program at each stage so that very few 
errors will slip in. In the world of one-worker, one- 
computer, such safeguards vanish. So, what does 
ail of this mean? ..-:--■ 

It probably means that the decentralization bf 
control that is being widely publicized is actually 
here. It probably means that, although there are 
drawbacks to any human endeavor, human beings 
have taken back control of their destiny. It probably 
means that the end-user in a big corporation does 
not 1 have to wait 8 to 15 months to get that critical 
report programmed in the MIS department. Al- 
though any new trend or technology is bound to 
create problems, the strengths and benefits seem 
to be outweighing the weaknesses, overall. • 

Integrated software is usually made up of some 
or all of the following functions: spreadsheet, data- 
base manager, word processor, communications 
program, and graphics. The driving ideas behind 
these packages are ease of training and ease of 
use. It is much simpler to train someone to use one 
set of commands than to train them to use five sets 
of commands. The typical computer user can be 



productive after just three or four hours of training 
with some of today's integrated software products: 
Ease of use is best described as the ability to turn 
the computer on in the morning and, without ever 
switching disks or changing programs, to dp all of 
the tasks of the day with the aid of the computer. 

If the communications portion of the integrated 
package can store all of the user's important phone 
numbers, and can automatically dial those num- 
bers if the user just types in a name, then produc- 
tivity is enhanced. If the word processing section is 
simple to use, then memos can be produced faster 
than by paper and pencil. If the user can quickly 
switch from one mode to another at the push of a 
button, then the norma! workflow will not be bur- 
dened by shoe-horning the computer into the pro- 
cess. If the data gathering section is easy. to use 
and has a good up-front editor, and if the database 
commands are easy to use and powerful, then pre- 
viously unattainable levels, of information will be 
available for important decisions. And finally,' if the 
spreadsheet has powerful, built-in functions and 
graphics,. then business i trends can be analyzed in 
a fraction of the time that they previously required. 

All of the features and functions listed above are 
available in over-the-counter packages today. And 
the future looks bright indeed. Programs are easy 
to use now and getting better. Operating systems 
are giving way to operating environments, allowing 
software publishers to create even better pro- 
grams. And the availability of venture capital is 
spurring the formation of many new companies, 
creating competition that is forcing the market for 
these products to move ahead at full speed. 

Finally, a whole new type of product just being 
released will probably be integrated into these 
products shortly. These are the so-called expert 
systems, which have been used to automate the 
problem-solving skills of experts in fields ranging 
from medicine to mining. For example, if you want 
to get a technical answer. about a law in your state, 
or if you would like the photocopy machine re- 
paired, you must call a person who has spent many 
months or years in training to learn how to do the 
job. An expert system can help the average, un- 
trained person to get the answer himself. The trick 
is to get down on paper in the correct sequence the 
whole process that the expert uses to solve the 
problem, then combine the process and sequence 
with a database of information to give the proper 
solution. Software that actually performs this syn- 



88 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



thesis js now being developed. As the next few 
years pass, we will see these tools fitted into the 
integrated software products as we know them 
today, making the small computer an invaluable 
too! for solving the problems of everyday life at 
home and in the office. 

": A word of advice for the person who hasn't yet 
invested in an integrated software package: Don't 
wait for the perfect package to come along. Each 
day that you work without an integrated package 
slows your productivity. Use the following section 
to pick out a package that fits your needs today. As 
new programs are released, the cost to upgrade 
will be small in comparison to your savings.co \. 

ALPHA DATA BASE MANAGER II 

Are you feeling a bit left out because of the cur- 
rent rage for integrated software? Perhaps you've 
already put in your time learning VisiCaic, Multi-- 
plan, or WordStar and shudder at the thought of 
having to learn an entirely new set of commands to 
accomplish the. processes you've finally mastered. 
Still, being able to pass information back and forth 
between applications sounds — and is—conve- 
nient. If you can also, use a good data manager, 
Alpha Software's Date Base Manager II might offer 
an alternative to abandoning your old friends for 
Lotus 1-2-3 or Context MBA. . ■'■■'.-: 

Alpha's DBMII is a data management package 
with a plus; Aside from making it easy to setup 
entry screens, enter and edit data, sort and print 
your data, and merge different databases, DBMII 
offers a special "Link Menu." This facility allows 
you to transfer data to and from spreadsheets, 
word processors, graphics packages, and other 
programs that store data in a variety of formats. • 

You can transport data to. and from other pack- 
ages using the. DIF format common to VisiCaic, 
BPS Business Graphics, and many other pro- 
grams; 7-2-3 worksheet and import file formats; Mi- 
crosoft's Multiplan SYLK .format; or ASCII text 
formats using Alpha's own Data Exchange— DEX 
—format. The menu also provides for converting 
DBMII, files into Mail Merge files to be used with 
WordStar. This provides a quick method for send- 
ing form letters using your DBMII files; as. the 
source. 

Alpha also provides a great tutorial, an audio 
tape that guides, you through each feature of 
DBMII, as well as appendices that provide exam- 
ples of how the database, can be used with a 



spreadsheet and word processor to implement sev- 
eral "quick and dirty" applications. : 
..The. information transfer, process is not as easy 
to. use as a package that offers many functions, 
such as 1-2-3. To create and transfer a spreadsheet 
file, you must first boot the spreadsheet, create the 
model, save the worksheet, boot DBMII, and then 
transfer the file. This is obviously, more involved 
than just switching applications within the same 
program. 

For this greater investment in -time and effort, 
DBMII allows you to use software you may already 
own and know how to use. It also allows you to put 
together your own custom integrated system. On 
top of this, you also get a nice, easy-to-use data 
manager, which, while not as capable as some of 
the more costly relational systems, should be able 
to handle many of your data management needs.ln 
all, it's not a bad package. 

Requirements: IBM PC with 128K -RAM or IBM/XT 
with 192K RAM, one disk drive 
Alpha Software, $295 

APPLEWO RKS 

At Jast there is an integrated software package 
for Apple. II users: Appleworks, a combined word 
processor, database, and spreadsheet package 
based on the new ProDOS operating system. . : 

Though Appleworks is from Apple Computer, , it 
is almost identical to III Easy Pieces, an Apple IN 
program from Haba Systems., Like most integrated 
software, it ranks higher in its ease of use than in. 
sophistication. Even a novice should need only a 
few days to learn ,to : use it, with ..no; instruction be- 
yond the manual. 

To load Appleworks, you must boot both a star- 
tup disk and a program disk. After that, it is easy to 
call up any of the programs and to switch among 
them. Appleworks is designed to mimic the familiar 
tasks of taking file folders from a cabinet^your 
disk drive— and putting them "on a desk for use. 
The "desktop" can hold 12 files at once, but dis- 
plays only one at a time. However, you can switch 
files at will and -can copy or move data between 
them using a "clipboard" routine. The program will 
use files from Apple Writer, Qujckfile, Word Jug- 
gler, and VisiCaic i as well as its own. 

The best program in the Appleworks kit is the 
built-in spreadsheet Though it does not boast all 
the features of some super-spreadsheet programs, 
it is larger, faster, and more sophisticated than the 



Integrated Packages 



89 



original VisiCalc and than many programs still 
being sold. The workspace totals 99 rows by 127 
columns— larger than most spreadsheets for the 
Apple II. Special features include variable column 
widths, alphabetical and numerical sorting, accu- 
racy up to 15 digits, and a wide range of commands 
for calculation and formatting, , 

The database works much like the Apple Quick- 
file system, but it Is much more powerful, easy to 
use, and very, very fast. It can arrange up to 30 
categories of data in alphabetical or numerical 
order or by date or time, sorting through 800 rec- 
ords in only 10 seconds. Printing is not as versatile 
as most features, but both table and label formats 
are available. For fancier printing, the data can be 
moved to award processor file and formatted as 
needed. . ; -.- : - .■.■; 

The word processor has a number of terrific fea- 
tures, and a few annoying flaws. On' the positive 
side, it displays documents on screen just as they 
will appear on paper, complete with centering, in- 
dentations, and page breaks. Search-and-replace 
functions work quite well, as do the cut-andrpaste 
and clipboard features. '.■■.■:■.■■.:■■.■■..;■:, 

In theory, the word processor supports propor- 
tional spacing, boldface, and super- and sub- 
scripts. It will also see to it that short lines do not 
appear at the top of a page and that subheads and 
the first lines of paragraphs do not; appear at the 
bottom. However, configuring the system for a 
printer Is surprisingly difficult. It took several 
hours, and underlining and boldface could not be 
made to work ; properly -with an Epson MX-80 
printer. 

, There are a fewother shortcomings.. The word 
processor, has no single-stroke commands to de- 
lete a word or line, oreven the character under the 
cursor. (Deletion is done by backspacing onto the 
character.) Once cut, even by accident, text cannot 
be restored. And there is no way to print form let- 
ters using a mailing list _• ■■■■:■;;-■ .;■■:,.-:. ::■..-. ■■ 

Formatting is rather cumbersome, with multis- 
troke commands to center or justify text and to set 
margins. More important, there is no way to 
change the program's default format. Other mar- 
gins, page lengths, and so on must be inserted into 
every document you print. ;; . . ; . 

Despite these limitations, the Appleworks word 
processor is probably adequate for letters and for 
most reports that require data from the spread- 
sheet or database programs. It is easy to learn and 



use, and a few of its conveniences— onscreen for- 
matting, for example— are rarely found in the price 
class. ■ 

Overall, Appleworks is an excellent package. As 
long as ft is the only integrated system for ProDOS, 
many Apple users will probably buy it simply be- 
cause it, like Mount Everest, is there. 
Requirements: Apple lie, disk drive, ProDOS 
Apple Computer, $250 

DESQ 

DESQ allows you to bundle your most used pro- 
grams, say WordStar, dBASE 2, Modem 7, and 
SuperCalc and use them all, each appearing on 
your monitor which is now a "desktop" of different 
program "windows." This program claims to "Inte- 
grate" the software;- it does not change the pro- 
grams themselves, but merely organizes them to 
access and compare. There is no true integration 
as with some high-end, high-cost programs. A vi- 
sual concurrence of software windows is a fine and 
valuable, accomplishment (especially at this price), 
however, the user continues to operate other soft- 
ware within each window. This other software must 
be purchased and learned, unless the user already 
operates a word processing, spreadsheet, or pie 
chartprogram. ■,.■.■;■.■■:■■■■.■:!■■■.■.''■-■■■ 

It does more than merely save time calling up 
different files, a function we can do with pro-, 
g ram m able keys and two disk drives. DESQ allows 
the simultaneous booting of WordSt a r, dBASE 2, 
or Pie Chart. This uses, oyer 200K of the recom- 
mended minimum 512K main memory. It is far bet- 
ter than the "interruptrand-resume" procedures for 
changing software or the split-screens. that try to 
sojve the problems facing anyone with a busy 
"desk." -Since DESQ allows us to patch in lan- 
guages we are already familiar with and gain 
greater control over programs that may have be- 
come a habit, it solves many immediate problems, 
especially access time, cut and paste, and compar- 
ison decision-making. After a couple sessions with 
DESQ you will be able to look at different files si- 
multaneously and obtain or send additional infor- 
mation by modem. Though a mouse is highly 
recommended forpointing at different windows in 
most window-software,. DESQ uses keyboard cur- 
sor pointing and keyboard changes. The comfort 
and power approached the feelings at a Macintosh 
demonstration. But here at DESQ, you use your old 
favorites, and fan them out for study. If DESQ and 



90 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



other window systems work well, they will be like a 
poker hand. Now the user can see all the cards at 
once, instead of one at a time. 

At a bargain price of $399, this product has taken 
a slice out of the technological stream somewhere 
between Lisa and Smalltalk "the prototype window 
integrated software developed in the mid-1970s at 
The Palo Alto Research Center. The pre-release 
documentation used for review was disorganized. 
Requirements: IBM PC, MS-DOS, 51 2K RAM . 
Quarterdeck Office Systems, $399 



THE IDEA PROCESSOR 

The Idea Processor combines word processing 
with text and graphics management functions. 

An editor/cardfile program has a complete com- 
plement of word processing features that make 
maximum use of the unique IBM keyboard. Used, 
alone or combined with Shift, Alt, and Ctrl keys, the 
10 Function keys become the equivalent of 40. On- 
screen menus and help are available. 
■; Cursor movement is particularly versatile. Hori- 
zontal movement may be character, word, tab stop, 
or either end of a line. Vertical cursor movement 
can be up or down by a screen 6, selectable num- 
ber of lines, or to the beginning or end of a docu- 
ment. Line-by-line and page-by-page scrolling are 
available. 

Versatile search-and-replace or simple search 
operations go forward or backward, either one oc- 
currence at a time or globally and may be specified 
with or without verification queries, with "wild- 
card" characters, for whole words or parts of 
words, and even for long strings split between 
lines. ! 

Block operations, underlining, boldfacing, and 
other actions also are provided, making it easy to 
manipulate entire sections of text at a time. 

Print formatting commands handle headings and 
footings, alter paragraph or page formats, and 
even accomodate automatic adjustment of left and 
right page number positions. Automatic footnoting 
is provided, complete with numbering and posi- 
tioning. Limited document indexing also can be 
achieved. Ten macro keys can be defined with up 
to 100 characters each. And graphics may be cap- 
tured from other programs and merged into docu- 
ments or the cardfile. ; 

The integral cardfile is arranged as cabinets, 
drawers, and folders, emulating a physical filing 



system. Up to 64,000 freeform cards may contain 
as many as 1,500 words each and may be indexed 
with up to 10 keywords each. Naturally, folders, 
drawers, and cabinets may be scanned, read, al- 
tered, added, deleted, or moved into documents. 

Considered a text data management system, this 
program allows a writer to structure documents 
based on early outlines and stored notes and in- 
serts. Cut and paste or boilerplated document 
preparation is particularly easy. ■' 

The one shortcoming is that this program cannot 
output a fully formatted document as a disk file, 
cutting it off from applications such as telecommu- 
nications. Finished documents can be printed but 
not transmitted by modem and telephone. Further- 
more, the onscreen display does not show the doc- 
ument as it will be printed; a separate, previewing 
function must be used to examine pages breaks, 
headings, footings, line centering, and so on. 

The system is quickly learned and easy to use. 
Eighteen screens of help information are available 
at any time, and the system arrives with many dem- 
onstration and guided practice files. 
Requirements: IBM PC or MS-DOS, 192K RAM 
Ideaware, $295 



THE INTEGRATOR (DATA BASE 
MANAGER II) 

Alpha Software's entry into the integrated soft- 
ware market includes an interesting twist — you 
don't have to give up your favorite word processor 
and spreadsheet programs any more to get inte- 
grated data files. 

Data Base Manager II— The Integrator works by 
itself as a database system, but its real strength is 
that it can be used with other popular programs, 
specifically WordStar (including MailMerge), 1-2-3, 
VisiCalc, and MultiPlan, allowing users to transfer 
information from one program to another. The 
twist is that although the Integrator was designed 
to work with these most popular "canned" pro- 
grams, it also works with any other word process- 
ing and spreadsheet programs that read IBM ASCII 
files (and almost all do). But beware. Since DBM II 
is specifically molded around VisiCalc and Word- 
Star files, if the programs that you want to integrate 
are radically different from them, you may want to 
check some commands or formats. For example, 
Lotus 1-2-3 WKS files can hold more than 40 col- 
umns oj data. Since DBM II only holds 40 fields per 



Integrated Packages 



91 



record, you'll have to trim 1-2-3 spreadsheet files to 
40 columns before transferring data to DBM II. 

DBM II is menu-driven; that is, you choose what 
to do next from a menu that you can call up at any 
time. You begin by caliing up the main menu, 
which has some 18 commands, including Enter 
Data, Create Report Format, Sort and Search Data, 
and the most interesting one, the VisiCalc-Word- 
Star link. From the main menu you go to the Enter 
Data command. You enter data only this onGe, right 
at the beginning of the process. Then enter the 
VisiCalc-WordStar link. This link is really another 
menu of options (12 of them) available under the 
integration portion of the DBM II package, such as 
how to transfer data from VisiCalc Data Inter- 
change Format (DIF) files to database files, or from 
database files to WordStar files. This second menu 
is where all the transfer of data takes place. When 
all the data have been transferred and integrated 
into the proper files, then you can go to the individ- 
ual files under, for instance, WordStar, and print 
them out, but now with updatabie numbers and 
namesinthem. 

There are also a couple of intriguing things you 
can do that are not listed on the V-W link menu. 
First, by "printing" a spreadsheet model to a file 
instead of to the printer, you will create a spread- 
sheet file that can be read by WordStar and incor- 
porated into other documents, such as a memo or 
letter. Second, if you print a report onto a file in- 
stead of the printer, you can then use this file for 
word processing. Thus, you can make database 
files part of a text document such as the letter men- 
tioned above. 

Each record holds as many as 40 fields of up to 
60 characters apiece. The number of records that 
you can store depends only on the size of the disk 
used for storage. The Integrator can be used with 
any standard hard disk using MS DOS 1.1, 2.0, or 
2.1. The database does a five-ieve! search. An inter- 
esting feature of The Integrator is its phonetic 
search, which allows you to find information even 
if you can't spell the words (though you must know 
the first letter of the word). The database also does 
wild-card searches of both fields and records. And 
as a special little plus for those who have access to 
bigger machines, DBM II uses Data Exchange For- 
mat (DEX), which allows information downloaded 
from a mainframe or minicomputer to be inte- 
grated into the files in the program. 

The package comes with a cassette tape contain- 



ing spoken instructions as part of an interactive 
tutorial to help users pick up the program's func- 
tions more quickly. 

.Requirements: IBM PC, DOS 1.1 and 128K or DOS 
2.0 and 192K; one double-sided disk drive and one 
single-sided drive 
Alpha Software Corp., $295 . . 

JACK 2 

Simplicity is the soul of Jack 2. In a time when 
most programs are growing more and more com- 
plex to fill the expanded memory available to the 
programmers, Business Solutions, inc. went the 
other direction in seeking useful, integrated soft- 
ware. Jack 2 does not have the most powerful word 
processor on the market, nor the biggest spread- 
sheets, nor the best database manager. Instead, 
Jack does all these things moderately well, and 
with extreme simplicity. 

Rather than attempt to splice together "canned" 
programs from other companies, BSI wrote their 
own word processor, database manager, and 
spreadsheet programs, and tied them together in 
one package. While this did guarantee that the pro- 
grams would be compatible and easy to learn, it 
does require the user to learn three new programs. 
Fortunately, there is a most complete tutorial in- 
cluded as part of the standard package. Jack is 
written in Pascal, and the disk holds Version IV.1 of 
the UCSD p-system. , :. 

The functions of Jack 2 are carried through five 
levels, or screens: disk, envelope, contents, form, 
and record. The program is visually oriented, and 
at each level the screen displays an "icon," or pic- 
ture, representing the level you are working on. 
The envelope screen, for instance, shows a group 
of file folders, each containing the name of a form. 
To see what is inside one of these envelopes, you 
must go ^ to the next level, called contents. Each 
disk can hold 50 envelopes, and each envelope can 
hold hundreds of records. At the top of each screen 
is a header that shows between five and 11 com- 
mands that can be performed on that level. " 

The programs themselves are very simple, and 
this is both good and bad. Jack's spreadsheet is 
255 cells per column by 255 cells per row, and any 
given form can hold a maximum of 1,024 fields. A 
maximum of 2,200 records can be stored on flop- 
pies, 10,000 on a hard-disk. The graphics generator 
makes only bar charts and scatter charts. BSI in- 
cluded only those features that are used most often 



92 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



in each of Jack 2's three types of software, elimi- 
nating the frills and features that complicated the 
process of learning and using the programs. Con- 
sequently, there are very few commands to learn, 
but these must be repeated over and oVer. The bro- 
chure talks about how powerful the word proces- 
sor is, and boasts that there are no control keys to 
worry about. What they neglect to tell you is that no 
complex commands (such as erasing ten words 
from a paragraph) are possible. Erasures can be 
made one character at a time, or one whole file or 
record at a time, intermediate steps are not avail- 
able. 

Similarly, in setting up fields and records to be 
manipulated, because the program is graphically 
oriented, placement of words on the screen is very 
important. Unfortunately, because there are only a 
few commands available, you spend a lot of time 
repeating simple steps in order to place the fields 
exactly where you want them. The overall impres- 
sion you get is that you are doing a lot of repetitive 
work that ought to be easy for the computer, and 
you wonder why you have to do It. 

Jack 2 appears to be intended for people who 
haven't the time or inclination to learn a lot of ar- 
cane functions they may never use. The program 
would have tremendous advantages, for instance, 
for financial analysts who need very little in the way 
of word processing, or for anyone who must mix 
graphs and text, and would not do much writing 
beyond the odd memo or short letter. But Jack is 
clearly not the right package for anyone who needs 
the absolute fastest, best program in any of these 
three categories, if streamlining is what you're 
after, then Jack may fit your needs perfectly. With 
more machine memory available in the future, and 
with updated, more sophisticated individual pro- 
grams, Jack (3?) could eventually be a giant ad- 
vance over everything on the market. It's already 
very good; with some expansion, it could become 
the idealfor just about anyone. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
Business Solutions, Inc., $495 

SERIES ONE PLUS 

Integrated software has become very popular, 
and for good reason. Packages such as Lotus 1-2-3 
and Context's MBA combine such functions as 
spreadsheets, information management, graphics, 
and sometimes word processing into one extraor- 
dinarily versatile piece of software. The fact that 



these components are integrated allows you to 
enter data into one area of the package — say, the 
spreadsheet — and use it with an entirely different 
function, such as graphics. 

Executec has taken this idea a step further. Their 
Series One Plus offers seven applications that can 
be used independently or tied together as a totally 
integrated system. Series One Plus consists of the 
Execu/WRITER word processor, Execu/FILE and 
Execui 'REPORTER for data management, Execul 
MODEL spreadsheet, Execu/PLOT graphics, 
Execu/LINK for communications (IBM 3780 emula- 
tion), and Execu/AID disk-based tutorial. Execul 
BUS ties all the individual packages together and 
provides utility and security functions. : 

Each of the separate Series One Plus modules 
function as well or better than most equivalent 
stand-alone packages. The bonus comes when two 
or more of the modules are integrated through the 
Execu/BUS master menu facility. Data can be cap- 
tured with Execu/FILE, tunneled to the Execul 
WRITER word processor, Execul REPORTER report 
generator to print letters or reports, and then trans- 
ferred to Execui 'PLOT "to present the data in a more 
easily understood graphic. The graphics produced 
by Execu/PLOT can then be included in the Execul 
WRITE report. Additionally* you can move the data 
into the spreadsheet, or transfer it to a mainframe 
with Execul LINK. :■:.;■■■■■;■■ 

The Execu/BUS host also includes utilities for 
importing and exporting data, allowing you to ex- 
change data with other software packages you may 
be using. 

Of course, ail of this power does not come with- 
out some trade-offs. The first of these is money. 
The entire Series One Plus package is considerably 
more expensive than 1-2-3 or MBA. Then again, 
neither offers all the features that Series One Plus 
does. 

The second trade-off is learning time. Each of the 
individual modules has features equivalent to a 
stand-alone package — and can be used as one. 
This means having to learn a new word processor, 
spreadsheet, and so on. This is mitigated, to some 
extent, by the fact that each package uses the same 
commands for such common functions as saving a 
file and leaving the program. : 

If you have need of more features than such pop- 
ular packages as 1-2-3 and MBA offer but really 
want the convenience of an integrated system, take 
a look at Serie's One Plus. 



Integrated Packages 



93 



Requirements: MS-DOS, 128K RAM; IBM PC/XT, 
192K RAM; two disk drives or hard disk 
Exec.utec Corp., Execu/BUS (includes Execu/ 
WRITER, Execu/FILE and Import/Export utility) 
$450; Execu/MODEL {requires Execu/BUS) $200; 
Execu/LINK (requires Execu/BUS and Communica- 
tions Card) $350; Execu/REPORTER {requires 
Execu/BUS) $200; Execu/AID (included with Execu/ 
BUS)$45 

STARBURST 

StarBurst is a member of the MicroPro family of 
software products. In a sense, it might be con- 
sidered the "glue" that binds the other programs 
together into a productivity system for the home or 
office. StarBurst works especially well with Word- 
Star, CaicStar, PlanStar, and InfoStar ; from 
MicroPro, but can run most other programs form 
its menus, as well. ,- 

StarBurst can take the place of a programmer in 
many circumstances. It is a menu generator that 
allows the user to decide what functions will.be 
performed and the order in which they will be com- 
pleted. The menu system can then; be turned over 
to a data entry operator with little experience, and 
the results will be very professional. MicroPro calls 
this procedure a two-tiered approach to delega- 
tion. The "Builder" decides what the system 
should do, and the "Operator" puts the system into 
practice. ■ ■■ ■ 

The StarBurst manual is divided into two parts. 
The "Builder's Book" is a reference manual. The 
"Workbook" is a companion manual to the tutorial 
supplied with the package. Both manuals are 
clearly written, well illustrated and printed in sev- 
eral colors for easy use. In addition, two quick ref- 
erence cards are provided. One shows all of the 
commands, the other is a map of the system for the 
operator's reference. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 96K RAM, two disk drives 
MicroPro International, $195 

SYMPHONY 

Symphony is Lotus Development's second entry 
into the integrated products market. Its first prod- 
uct, Lotus 1-2-3, has been the best-selling software 
package on the market since its introduction in 
early 1983. The 7-2-3 package achieved this wide- 
spread popularity because it did everything so well, 
from the software itself to the manual to the disk- 
based tutorial. In addition, an advertising blitz un- 



precedented in the software industry accompanied 
the introduction of 1-2-3. ■■ ■ . 

With the introduction of Symphony, Lotus has 
once again take the software world by storm. The 
company has gone back to the drawing board and 
designed a completely integrated system consist- 
ing of a spreadsheet, a database manager, graph- 
ics, a word processor, and communications 
module. Although the 1-2-3 influence remains evi- 
dent, the new program was written from scratch 
and will be sold as a separate product, not as a 1-2- 
3 upgrade. 

In addition to the communications module and a 
word processor, Lotus has included many more 
features that will distinguish the package. All five 
modules use a single work area in which all of the 
information is temporarily stored during a work 
session. The work area is 256 columns wide by 
8,192 rows deep, providing over two million cells to 
work with. 

The need for windows is plain with a worksheet 
of this size, and Lotus has provided them. The new 
windowing capability is a pleasure to work with. It. 
allows the creation of as many windows as you like, 
and changing the size and shape of each window 
is quite easy. There is even a Zoom key feature 
(assigned to one of the IBM Function keys), which 
allows you to "zoom" a small corner of the screen 
up to full size and then return it to its proper cor- 
ner. Each time you set up a window, you must se- 
lect which of the five functions will be supported by 
it. Having made such a decision, the proper menu 
selections will be active and available for use when 
you move into that window. 

Symphony offers "The Symphony Command 
Language," a complete programming language 
that allows the creation of a series of commands 
that allows the user to run Symphony with very few 
keystrokes. Since the programming can be tedi- 
ous, there is also a Learn mode, where every key- 
stroke that you enter is remembered in a blank 
section of the work area. Then, after the worksheet 
is saved, the learned Macro can be invoked by typ- 
ing in just a few keys. Symphony's command lan- 
guage can also be used on a more advanced level. 
You can. create your own menus of command 
words that look and work just like Symphony 
menus. For example, you might create a check- 
book balancing application containing the follow- 
ing menu selections: NewCheck, CurrentBalance, 
NotCleared, and Reconcile. You could then move 



94 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



the menu pointer through the choices, selecting 
the application that you want. Each selection 
would be a complete program, performing all of 
the minute details for you without all of the hassle. 

The program is completely memory-resident, al- 
lowing the kind of speed that the busy executive 
needs. Of course, this takes its toll. The minimum 
configuration is a whopping 320K of internal mem- 
ory to hold the basic system. If you use large 
spreadsheets or databases, you will want to ex- 
pand your system to the maximum of 640K. in fact, 
if you now use a 1-2-3 spreadsheet that is close to 
maximum size, and you want to convert to Sym- 
phony, you will probably have to divide it into two 
separate sheets; the new program is that much 
larger than 1-2-3, But the power that comes with 
having all applications just a microsecond away is 
well worth the memory cost for many users. 

If you use 1-2-3 today, you will be a little upset at 
the changes made to the command structure. For 
example, in the old system, to erase a cell, you 
would type "/RE"; in the new system you type 7E." 
It is only a minor change, but one of many that you 
will encounter; and that means you will spend sev- 
eral weeks releaming the old 1-2-3 modules as well 
as spending time learning the windowing system 
and the new modules. On the positive side,; "If you 
are not encumbered with all of that old knowledge, 
most of the functions can be performed with fewer 
keystrokes than in 1-2-3, a time-saver that will soon 
add up. 

Although 1-2-3 had a database management sys- 
tem, it was rudimentary at best. The Symphony 
database manager is much better. The key differ-: 
ence is in a window called Form. When you want to 
enter information into your database, you now 
have two options. You can still enter it column by 
column, just as in 1-2-3. But that is pretty tedious. 
With Symphony, you can set up a data entry form 
that not only makes the work go faster, but also 
allows you to perform various editing checks on 
the information, set up defaults, and perform cal- 
culations in the entry form rather than In the 
spreadsheet itself for immediate verification. You 
can also use the forms feature for retrieving your 
information, as in many of the dedicated database 
managers. 

Symphony provides eight different charting ca- 
pabilities, including bar, stacked bar, line, X-Y, 
area, pie, exploded pie, and open-high-low-ciose 
for stock market graphics. There are more func- 



tions built into Symphony than were included in 1- 
2-3, most of which have to do with more sophisti- 
cated time and date manipulation, security, and the 
ability to work with text. In the text area, very com- 
plete string handling functions allow the user to 
turn a string into a value and vice versa, find the 
length of a string, search for characters within a 
string, pull portions of the string out for additional 
use, perform calculations based on whether a cell 
contains a text string or a numeric value, and han- 
dle many more operations. 

The communications package is very complete 
and easy to use. It even has a feature that lets you 
interrupt data communications and, talk on the 
phone line, then return to data communication. 
The word processor has all of the features ex- 
pected from good word processing software. If you 
have used WordStar and want to change, you will 
spend some time learning the new commands: It's 
not that the commands are difficult, because they 
are much easier to use than WordStar's; it's- just 
that they are different. If you have used the Wang- 
type word processing programs/ you will see the 
familiar format lines that allow you to change your 
format control anywhere In the document that you 
want, and as often as you want. 

Besides the nice electronic tutorial, Lotus has 
developed a very comprehensive, easy-to-use man- 
ual and an online help facility that is almost as 
good as the manual. In fact, you will rarely have to 
refer to the manual if you use the F1 Function key 
regularly. 

Taken one at a time, each of Symphony's pro- 
gram modules would be a contender for the best 
program in that area. Taken together, you have an 
almost unbeatable system. But, in any other area in 
the computer arena, things change quickly and the 
challengers will be out there soon. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 320K RAM, two double- 
sided disk drives ■'■■'■'.■■' ; ■'■■■'; 
Lotus Development Corp., $695 . 

T/MAKER III 

T/MAKER III is free-form table generator with in- 
termediate text editing and database functions. Al- 
though its capabilities are flexible enough for its 
manufacturer to advertise it (legitimately) as a word 
processor, database system, electronic spread- 
sheet and graphics program, it is not comparable 
to sophisticated integrated software packages like 
Lotus 1-2-3. Rather, T/MAKER III is a collection of 



Integrated Packages 



95 



powerful commands that can operate on lines, col- 
umns, and larger blocks of data. Learning and 
using these commands requires thorough study. 
With practice, however, users will be able to dupli- 
cates to a limited degree, all of the applications 
listed above. 

The text manipulation capabilities of Tl MAKER III 
are not powerful enough to classify it as a word 
processor. There are commands for centering, 
headers and footers, margin justification, holding, 
underlining, right and left justification, an awkward 
line block cut and copy and search and replace. 
But lacking are full cursor movement, line-by-line 
scrolling, and onscreen formatting. A large portion 
of word processing is convenient human interface. 
In this regard, the somewhat technical implemen- 
tation of 77 MAKER III makes it more a text editor 
and less a true word processor. 

The blank screen of T/MAKER III allows you com- 
plete flexibility to construct rows and columns of 
data in other spreadsheet programs. You instruct 
T/MAKER III to add, for example, a column of num- 
bers by entering in a " + " sign to the column's left 
and an "-" on the line where you want the total. 
Values are formatted by typing "9s" on the top of 
the cotumn, 999.99 representing two fixed deci- 
mals. Be sure to allow enough nines, though. Tl 
MAKER ///will only display as many digits of your 
answer as you have nines. There are a good num- 
ber of arithmetic functions like Average, Greatest 
Element, Projections, Percentages, and Recipro- 
cals. However, if you are used to a Ws/Ca/c-style 
implementation you will probably find T/MAKER III 
initially hard to understand and ultimately less 
powerful.' " '"■-■ 

Other features include a select/sorting capability 
that operates on rows or columns for data base 
functions, a merge function to combine data tables 
with text, and a primitive graphics generator that 
produces bar charts which, interestingly, you can 
move about your files as if they were blocks of text. 

If your requirements in text, spreadsheet, and 
data manipulation are not stringent, you want the 
ability to do ail in a single session, and are willing 
to learn .the unique but powerful command world 
of T/MAKER III, this program might become "the 
only program you'll ever need." Experienced users 
of any single-purpose program, like VisiCalc or 
WordStar, however, will find T/MAKER III lacking 
convenience and power. ' 
Requirements: CP/lvV 48K RAM; CP/M-86, PC- 



DOS, or MS-DOS, 128K RAM; 250K disk storage 
T/MAKER CO., $275. 

Ill E-Z PIECES 

/// E~Z Pieces, an integrated package for the 
Apple IN, is an extremely versatile combination of 
word processing, spreadsheet, and database sys- 
tem. The onscreen display is modeled after a desk- 
top: You can retrieve a number of files and place 
them "on the desk" for use at any time. Desktop 
size is limited only by the amount of machinemem- 
ory available. All files can be accessed from menus, 
and when in doubt, you can call up help screens by 
pressing the Open-Apple or Question Mark keys. 

During setup, you can define as many as three 
printer types, one of which may be an output to a 
diskfiie. Another printing device may be designated 
a "snapshot" printer and used to capture an image 
of the screen. To open a file, you select a file type, 
word processing, database, or spreadsheet, and 
enter the individual file name. 

The word-processing function automatically for- 
mats text on the screen, and help screens list addi- 
tional formatting commands. Full block operations 
are also supported. Reminder menus indicate 
which keys perform special functions when used in 
conjunction with the Open-Apple key. These 
'menus limit onscreen text size, although full- 
screen scrolling is easy. = •'•• ■■:■'■■■ 

Spreadsheet operations are similar to those of 
VisiCalc; anyone familiar with that industry stan- 
dard will easily make the transition. /// E-Z Pieces, 
however, has added a new wrinkle: an : overlap 
function. With most spreadsheets, when an individ- 
ual cell is filled with text, you must manually ad- 
vance the cursor to the next cell. This can lead to a 
certain amount of textual gymnastics when you try 
to maintain formats and title styles.. But with the 
overlap function, once the cell fills, you are auto- 
matically moved to an adjacent one, and you can 
continue entering data. .. 

The database is an extension of the original 
Apple 111 Quickfile, with similar commands. Data are 
displayed in row format, with information pertinent 
to each record listed on the screen. A zoom feature 
allows you to access the individual entries within 
any row of data. Fullediting and insertion and dele- 
tion of records are all possible.. You can select and 
retrieve specific data from records and generate a 
printed report. •* 

The manuals for all three modules are under- 



96 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



standable and contain helpful examples' of operat- 
ing techniques. But a discussion of this program's 
separate functions tells only part of the story: /// E- 
Z Pieces is a fully integrated package. Sections of 
text or information can be transferred to the 
"scratch pad," a memory-based holding area, and 
transferred at will among the word-processing, 
database and spreadsheet sections. You never 
have to exit the: program and manipulate external 
files, a common failing of many other packages 
that maintain compatibility but not full integration. 
The levels of program involvement are described 
by overlapping menus. The number of overlaid 
menus indicates the depth of progress into the pro- 
gram. Operating-system level activities supported 
are disk format, root and subdirectory creation; 
catalog and delete file are also available. 

/// E-Z Pieces has a lot more going for it than just 
a clever title. Individually, its three functions stand 
up well, and collectively, the whole is even greater 
than the sum of its parts. ■■■■■.■:'■ 
Requirements: Apple ill,. 256K RAM, two disk 
drives .-.■:■ ■ = =..■.■'. 

Haba Systems, $295 ; 



VISION 

= The long-awaited VisiOn promises to be another 
superb VisiCorp program and may become as pop- 
ular, as VisiCalc. So far, though, it has a long way to 
go; ■■: 

VisiOn is an integrated applications package 
with windows that allows the viewing of several 
files or programs simultaneously. You can take a 
piechart from a VisiGraph- window and paste it into 
text in the VisiWrite window. You can access, 
change, edit, close, or open different files, shrink- 
ing the windows and storing them off-center on the 
screen. Or even reduce up to nine working files to 
filename tags and store them along the right side 
of the screen. 

Characters appear on screen as they will on the 
printout — in italic, bold, or underlined. This solves 
a' iong-festering training program for instructors 
and the self-teaching novice. It is a great advance 
for software user friendliness. 

The mouse-controlled cursor arrow is used to 
select filenames or a list of functions along the bot- 
tom of the screen: edit, open, close, size, cut and 
paste, delete and one box called "archives," which 
allows you to search through the equivalent of a 



high-speed file cabinet with reference card cata- 
logs. ;.-.■■■ ■■• - ; ■■ ■■■:■ 

The problem is speed. On an IBM XT, version 8.2 
it seemed prohibitively slow. This is particularly re- 
grettable, because IBM virtually owns the. business 
market for. micros. The integration of text, charting 
and budget projections is especially useful for 
business management Therefore, most VisiOn will 
be run on the IBM. But not very fast, and therefore 
perhaps not very often. \ : ". • ■■■■. 

: Speed becomes crucial after the user masters a 
software program; seconds become hours when 
you are holding a thought and waiting for the text 
or graph to shift to another window before contin- 
uing. A novice with 20 hours of flying time can cut 
and paste, write, chart, and layout several files, 
stack a teaser filing system: on the right side, and 
become very proficient using the mouse. It takes 
only. a little coaching. Then the user wants to go 
faster than the program can. The cursor arrow be- 
comes a blinking hourglass while a command is 
working, calling up a file or window.; This symbol 
for "wait while I get that for you,"; appears on the 
screen far too often. Though mere seconds pass, 
most users will probably find this unacceptable. ■ ■■■ : ' 
•:■ Version 8.2, the latest beta-test edition at the 
time of this review, was also visually confusing. To 
take an example: One "sizes" a text window down 
to a 3-byr5 inch rectangle on a 19-inch monitor 
screen, and pulls in a doodle, from VisiGraph, to 
include in the text. Hit Open and enlarge the win- 
dow to 8-by-10 inches.. This new window is flapped 
over the text window, which is now partially hidden 
by the new window. So the only text that shows in 
the text window is a bit of the upper-left top of the 
page. A cut-out corner of the page is visible, show- 
ing only sentence and word fragments. This is im- 
becilic. Lay four manuscript pages of text in front 
of you so that only the top corner of each is avail- 
able for visual reference, and you will -see the fail- 
ure. It approaches uselessness and adds even 
further to the speed problems ofrunning the soft- 
ware. - ■:■". 

There are several packages sold separately: 
VisiOn Management System, VisiGraph, VisiWriter. 
The company claims that third-party software has 
been encouraged. VisiOn. is i worth examining if you 
require applications, own an IBM, and do not want 
to trade it for a 32-bit Macintosh or Lisa. 

VisiOn will improve, VisiCorp promises. Let's 
hope so. This is, after all, a thousand-dollar invest- 



Integrated Packages 



97 



merit in software. But after working with the beta- 
test program, one begins to wonder whether Visb 
Corp may be asking more of the IBM PC then its 
relatively slow 8088 can deliver. :: - 

Documentation is fair and a bit paranoid. The 
manual is dull and has a high school secretarial 
flavor, though it is worth plodding through. : -..= 
Requirements: MS-DOS, 512K RAM, mouse :■. 
VlsiCorp,; VisiOn Management Syst em $375; Vlsi- 
Graph $325; VisiWrite $325 ■■■:■■ 



DAVE BELLET, PARTNER IN CROWN 
ASSOCIATES, A VENTURE CAPITAL 

FIRM ■,--.;:.<■■-■■■ 
Software companies, and not hardware 
manufacturers, "are the driving force in com- 
puters today," says Dave Bel let of Crown As- 
sociates In New York, a group of venture 
capitalists with more than $150 million in- 
vested in growth firms, one^third of them soft- 
ware related, !i '■'■■ '';'/'■ : '-';" \ r 
■ : ."It's clear to us that the software companies 
understand better how to solve the cus- 
tomer's problems," he adds. "You can see 
that when multibiilion-dollar IBM goes to 
Beilevue to get 25-year-oid Bill Gates at Mi- 
crosoft to design Its personal computer soft- 
ware;"- W; : " V! " 'qr--.-"J i;-:': ■;■■:■■; -V:, 

Crown feels that ease-of-use is the most im-" 
portant factor in ^software today. Among its 
investments since 1981 are Lotus Develop- 
ment with its "• 1-2-3 spreadsheet program 
(Crown's $1.5 million stock purchase isnow 
worth $26 mi II ion); 'Convergent Technologies, 
creator of the lap-Sized Workslate microcom- 
puter; and Software Publishing 1 Corp.,- which 
has sold more than 100,000 copies of its mod- 
erately priced, business-oriented pis prod- 
ucts. ■'■ ;; :! -'-' : . : \ ; ': ; ;i:; -" : - : 

"Software Publishing stands out especially 
in knowing what the first-time user needs," 
said Belief, 37, who invested pension-fund 
portfolios at Citibank With his partner, Chet 
Siuda, before both moved to Crown. 

Belief still looks to put money into "small 
companies that will turn out to be very large," 
but he predicts that a shakeout will occur in 
computer software during 1984 because of 
rising research and marketing costs. 



98 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



SPREADSHEET PRDERARn5 



Accountants and business planners will have no 
trouble adapting to spreadsheet programs. 
Running a spreadsheet program is like having a 
large columnar pad in front of you, and each col- 
umn can contain information for a single month 
and each row can hold the details of a particular 
category of information or account. It takes the 
place of not only the pad, but also the pencil and 
the calculator. 

But it is also a lot more. A typical spreadsheet is 
much larger than any columnar pad; a standard 
size is 254 rows long and 64 columns wide— some 
even offer over 2,000 rows and more than 250 col- 
umns, it also provides the convenience of placing 
the whole formula for a calculation into one "cell," 
where a column and a row intersect. In a manually 
prepared spreadsheet, the user would often have 
to refer to some other page with the formulas 
spelled out, do all the calculations, and then place 
the correct answer into the proper box. 

Finally, it gives the user an easy way to do a 
"what if" analysis. If you put your annual budget 
into a spreadsheet program, and then would like to 
see what would happen to your savings plan if you 
bought that new car, the program will tell you in a 
matter of seconds. Decision-support software of 
this type has been available on mainframe comput- 
ers for only a few years. 

Articles always compare a person using an aba- 
cus to another person using a calculator, and the 
experienced abacus "operator" always wins. But 
modern technology has finally won the race. If you 
compare the speed with which you can calculate a 
spreadsheet containing 25 columns and 150 rows 
{3,750 calculations) with that speedy abacus per- 
son, the spreadsheet will win hands down. In this 
example, if you were using Lotus 1-2-3, the calcu- 
lation time would be in the neighborhood of a min- 
ute and a half. Just try to find someone who can do 
over 40 calculations a second for 90 seconds! And, 
to make matters better, calculations can be ex- 
tremely complicated; some may contain an alge- 
braic equation with over 200 characters, symbols, 
and variables. 

The point of all this is that a spreadsheet can take 
a routine chore which takes an individual an hour 
or more a week to post and calculate, and make the 
chore into something that can be completed 
quickly and easily. This kind of speed leads the 
user to do many jobs that would have otherwise 
been avoided. Some of the tasks that can be tack- 



led are budgeting, income tax preparation, check- 
book balancing, engineering analysis, sales 
projection, utility cost analysis, rental income rec- 
ord keeping and analysis, loan amortizations, sal- 
ary projections, and project management chores. 

Some spreadsheet programs even give you a lim- 
ited database system. Conceptually, each row of 
the spreadsheet is a record and each column is a 
field. With the addition of the database feature, the 
uses of a spreadsheet program expand even fur- 
ther. You can inventory such things as your house- 
hold goods; your record, video tape, or book 
collection;" and : all of your Computer magazines. 
Then you can compile and review the statistics for 
your favorite football team. Finally, you can tackle 
that job the big office mainframe never seems able 
to produce, such as a list of your customers with 
their current phone number and contact name.. 

As. with all computer programs, the best way to 
choose a spreadsheet program is to list the tasks 
you want to accomplish and then search for the 
program that will handle all of them for you. In fact, 
human beings are inclined to dream a lot, and the 
perfect program has not yet caught up to this 
dreaming, but there are some very sophisticated 
packages available today, and you might be sur- 
prised at just how many of your wish-list items can 
be handled for you. The purpose of this section is 
to help you find the program or set of programs 
that wilj.fill. your needs, >:-::---. : 

TO: accomplish this, let's break down the task 
into several sections.. Using a spreadsheet involves 
input, calculation, and output. If you r pick a pro- 
gram that lets you input easily and calculate every- 
thing imaginable, y but does not output, .the 
information in a format that you ; need, then. your 
task, is not really accomplished. If, on the other 
hand, the reporting capabilities fit your needs, but 
data entry, is so tedious that you can never bring 
yourself to the keyboard, the job will never get 
done and you'll be right back where you started. If 
you do a lot of heavy-duty financial calculations, 
and the spreadsheet you chose does not offer built- 
in financial functions, much of your time at the 
computer will be spent reinventing the wheel, usu- 
ally less successfully than the original programmer 
could have done it. : -.-. ■ .■■.-■■ 

As you can see, the proper choice of a spread- 
sheet package is a matter of defining your need 
and investigating capabilities offered. Use the fol- 
lowing directory section to narrow down your 



Spreadsheet Programs 



99 



choice, then visit your local computer retailer to try 
each program that interests you. If you don't feel 
comfortable with a program, no matter how it 
sounds in the advertisements, you must continue 
yoursearch. 

A state-of-the art spreadsheet will have as many 
built-in functions as possible, reducing the number 
of formulae that you must enter to accomplish your 
task, it will also have some type of command that 
lets you fill many rows or columns with repetitive 
or sequenced data by using just a few keystrokes. 
Finally, it will give you the ability to write small 
"programs" (often called macros or keyboard 
memory) that will do the same task ove rand over 
for you. This feature is especially handy when you 
perform the same functions on a regular basis, 
such as printing a daily sales report. 

Some of the more popular spreadsheet pro- 
grams come with, preprogrammed templates that 
are actually a complete set of formulae and func- 
tions set up and waiting for you to enter your own 
data into the blanks provided. Many of these tem- 
plates are also available in stores, provided by in- 
dependent software vendors, in most cases, these 
templates are available only for the most popular 
spreadsheet packages; if you want to use them, be 
sure they are available for the package you choose. 

^A/hen the first spreadsheet programs appeared 
on the market, the concept was so revolutionary 
that people snapped them up without worrying 
about the details. After all, any spreadsheet they 
could buy made them far more productive. Now, 
however, the prospective purchaser should spend 
some time working with several programs before 
deciding which data-entry style suits him. Some 
spreadsheets have been so conveniently designed 
that entering information and moving around the 
screen are almost second nature. Some are still 
very clumsy and difficult to work with. And still oth- 
ers have been designed for easy use in specific 
applications, but are difficult to use for other 
things. A case in point is the "financial modeling" 
genre of spreadsheet. This type of package often 
assumes that everything is being done on a month- 
by-month basis and automatically puts the infor- 
mation from the first column across all columns. A 
nice feature, unless you wanted to put a copy of the 
1040 tax form into your system, where months 
make little difference and text is your primary need. 

Even the simplest, least expensive spreadsheet 
on. the market has very powerful calculation capa- 



bilities compared to a pencil and a calculator. But 
for many of the applications that the typical user 
can dream up, more sophisticated calculations are 
often required. Let's review the types of calculation 
by grouping them into categories. 

First, we have "operators" — the math symbols. 
In this category, the most common operators are 
for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and divi- 
sion. Other useful operators are exponentiation 
(squaring or cubing a number), and the symbols 
that show relationships— greater than ( > ), equal 
to ( = ), less than ( < ), not equal to ( <> ), greater 
than or equal to { >.= ), and less than or equal to ( 
<= ). Another type of operator is the logical oper- 
ator that lets you make multiple comparisons; the 
most common are AND, OR, and NOT. 

Second are the mathematical functions. These 
include SINE, COSINE, TANGENT, LOG, NATURAL 
LOG, SQUARE ROOT, PI, EXPONENT, ARC COS- 
INE, ARC SINE, and ARC TANGENT, which are 
used for mathematical and engineering purposes. 
There are also general purpose math functions in 
most spreadsheets, for example ROUND, RAN- 
DOM, MOD (show the remainder after doing divi- 
sion), ABSOLUTE, and INTEGER. 

A third category is the set of logical functions, 
which allow the user to program complex sets of 
conditions into a spreadsheet model. These are 
usually used with the logical operators. The most 
powerful is the IF function, where a choice can be 
made based on the value available at the time of 
the calculation. Also included in the logical func- 
tions areTRUE and FALSE. ... 

The ability to look values up in a table stored 
somewhere in the spreadsheet is accomplished by 
the fourth kind of function, the LOOKUP function. 
The various spreadsheet programs offer a range of 
ways to do this needed task, some easy to use and 
some more difficult. ■■= -.■•■'. 

The fifth type of function is the statistical func- 
tion. This category includes SUM, COUNT, AVER- 
AGE, MAXIMUM, MINIMUM, STANDARD 
DEVIATION, SLOPE, REGRESSION, and VARI- 
ANCE. These are perhaps the most commonly used 
functions, because they are the ones that provide 
us with information in usable groupings and help 
to make our raw data more meaningful. Best of all, 
you don't have to be a statistics major to use them. 

The last category of functions can best be de- 
scribed as special functions. These are provided by 
the spreadsheet publisher to make the program 



100 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



easier to use for the individual with a specific need. 
Included here are functions to do database manip- 
ulations, date functions that help when you are 
doing amortizations and discounting of notes, and 
a wide variety of financial functions. The more 
common ones are FUTURE VALUE, PRESENT 
VALUE, NET PRESENT VALUE, INTERNAL RATE 
OF RETURN, and PAYMENT AMOUNT. • ■': 

Once your data has been entered and calculated, 
it's time to think about getting it back out in a us- 
able format, in the simplest programs, the spread- 
sheet can-only be printed as it is displayed on the 
screen, with no further formatting. At the other end 
of the spectrum, the newer programs often provide 
complete formatting as well as graphics ranging 
from the simple to the truly magnificent. 

Some of the common formatting capabilities 
have to do with how the information is shown on 
the screen as well as how it is printed on your 
printer. In this area, the formats to look for are sci- 
entific notation, integer, fixed decimal place, cur- 
rency, date, percentage, left and right justified text, 
and the availability of variable column widths. '= 

The way the text is handled is also of interest to 
most users. In the older spreadsheets/text had to 
fit into the column exactly; if it didn't, the user was 
responsible for putting the rest of the information 
into the next celt. All formatting was manual. In the 
newer programs, much of this work is done auto- 
matically. Although none of the packages on the 
market today can compete head-to-head with a 
top-notch word processor, they can often handle 
simple one- or two-page documents more easily 
than jumping out to a separate word-processing 
program. 

Spreadsheet programs are wonderful things. 
They are said to have been the real reason that 
microcomputers have gained so much popularity 
so quickly. Since VlsiCalc's introduction in 1978, 
no self-respecting computer owner can be without 
a spreadsheet program. The new wave of inte- 
grated programs have, for the most part, used a 
spreadsheet as the base for other functions, in- 
cluding database management, graphics, word 
processing, and telecommunications. 

As you begin your search for a spreadsheet, or 
begin to think about replacing that old clunker of a 
program with a newer, faster model, keep in mind 
one thing: Every day that goes by, someone else is 
making a newer and better product. You will never 
find the perfect package, and if you do, it will be 



obsolete shortly thereafter. So don't go looking for 
a "ten" and refuse to buy before you find it. And 
don't wait until the next version is available. Ail you 
will be doing is wasting your valuable time. 

When you find a package that is close to what 
you need, buy it and use it. You wii! save enough 
time and do a better job in so many areas that you'll 
be glad: you went ahead. Then, when you see a 
product next year that is better by far, you can eas- 
ily justify the expense all over again because of the 
time and money that you have already saved with 
your current spreads heet.co 

CALC RESULT SPREADSHEET 

Following the iead of VisiCalc, dozens of elec- 
tronic spreadsheet programs have been intro- 
duced; they continue to be the among the most 
popular and practical programs for personal com- 
puters. The Commodore 64, with relatively large 
memory space for a home computer, is well suited 
to spreadsheet applications, and Calc Result was 
the first useful program of this type for it. 

On the surface, Calc Result looks very much like 
VisiCalc. It functions about as well, but it is much 
easier to use and offers a number of unexpectedly 
advanced features. The program loads automati- 
cally, after the computer is turned on with the nec- 
essary ROM cartridge in place. (The cartridge 
holds certain essential program elements, as well 
as secures the program from unauthorized copy- 
ing. It also allows for back-up copies of the pro- 
gram to be made and used by the owner.) = .■:'■■:. 

Like ail spreadsheets, information (numbers and 
labels) is entered into "cells," the maximum size of 
the matrix, here, being 63 columns by 255 rows. 
Since the 64 is capable of displaying text and 
graphics in color, each ceil can be any one of 16 
different colors. The overall background color, too, 
can be selected. This may seem frivolous, but it 
isn't. The color of the numbers and labels are used 
by Calc Result to draw bar graphs based on the 
information entered into the spreadsheet. The 
graphs can be printed on Commodore's dot matrix 
printer or their color printer/plotter. 

This is also a "three-dimensional" spreadsheet 
program. This means that, besides recalculating 
values in the vertical and horizontal directions, val- 
ues can be passed and calculated among up to 32 
different "pages," or additional spreadsheets. Two 
of these pages can be in the computer's internal 
memory at once, and information from up to four 



V. 



Spreadsheet Programs 



101 



different pages can be displayed on the screen at 
once in horizontal and vertical "windows." 

Learning to use Calc Result is very easy. The text/ 
tutorial that accompanies the program is very good 
and uses many visual examples, almost all of which 
are reproduced in color. "Help" screens are avail- 
able at every step of the way, too. And, since Calc 
Result comes from Sweden, these help screens are 
furnished in English, Spanish, French, Italian, 
Dutch, Finnish, and, of course, Swedish. 

There are two different versions of Calc Result; 
Easy Calc Result and Calc Result Advanced. The 
primary difference between the two is that the Easy 
version does not provide for multiple pages and 
has fewer functions. Advanced incorporates all the 
functions described above. Easy is packaged only 
as a ROM cartridge, while the Advanced system 
requires both a cartridge and program disk. 
Requirements: Commodore 64, disk drive (for Calc 
Result Advanced) 
Computer Marketing, $99.95 

CALCSTAR 

By far this program's best feature is the software 
family to which it belongs. Users of WordStar will 
quickly find themselves at home with CalcStar, 
both MicroPro programs. The same keystrokes 
used to control the word processor are used in 
CalcStar, making it easy for experienced WordStar 
users to learn this program. CalcStar is one of two 
spreadsheet-type programs offered by MicroPro. 
When the user needs more power than CalcStar 
offers, upgrading to PlanStar is easy. In addition, 
MicroPro's StarBurst control program helps to tie 
all of the family members together into an inter- 
grated system. 

CalcStar is slow, possibly one of the slowest 
spreadsheet packages on the market. It also lacks 
sufficient worksheet space to be considered in the 
league with a market leader like SuperCalc. Al- 
though the worksheet is physically larger than 
VislCalc or SuperCalc — 127 columns and 255 rows 
— only 1,350 cells can be used at any one time, 
even on a 16-bit machine with 160K of memory 
available. The size of the spreadsheet window is 
limited by the block of status and heip information 
displayed at all times. This information is a bless- 
ing for the novice or occasional user, but it makes 
for much needless scrolling. 

MicroPro provides a 160-page manual that is 
easy, to follow and includes several worked-out ex- 



amples, including job costing and checkbook bal- 
ancing. A quick reference card is also provided. 
Requirements: CP/M, 56K RAM; IBM PC, 160K 
RAM; disk drive 
MicroPro, $195 

DESKTOP PLAN III 

Desktop Plan III is a combination spreadsheet 
and strategic information analysis program that 
will arrange your data and present it in a bar chart, 
stacked bar chart, or line format. As such, it is an 
efficient business tool. 

The program begins by prompting you for the 
number of columns needed to generate the report; 
a maximum of 300 is allowed. Desktop Plan auto- 
matically calculates the rows available based on 
the figure you supply and the amount of system 
memory. 

You enter information by assigning it to the ap- 
propriate cell, and, if desired, the program will per- 
form the calculations for you. Alternatively, you can 
create your own "rules," which are actually intri- 
cate Business-BASJC procedures for doing com- 
plex formulations. Desktop Plan III provides up to 
two lines for the report titles and up to 30 charac- 
ters for description of the values, which appear in 
the leftmost column of your screen. Data columns 
are limited to 1 character spaces. 

The results of these calculations can then be 
used to generate graphs either onscreen or in a 
printout. You can use an Apple Silentype printer or, 
instead, store the results as a Foto file, which can 
be reproduced on any graphics printer that sup- 
ports this type of file. 

Overall, the program is efficient; it calculates 
your data and creates graphs quickly. The manual 
is generally informative, although it gets off to a 
slow start. The only apparent hurdle is that the pro- 
gram was designed for owners of a complete Apple 
system, including the Apple letter-quality printer. 
Changing the parameters for printing condensed, 
bold, underlined or double-underlined text entails 
altering BASIC statements, not for the faint of 
heart. 

Requirements: Apple 111, 128K RAM, two disk 
drives 
VisiCorp, $300 

EASYCALC 

For the price, EasyCalc is one of the best spread- 
sheet programs available on the market. It does not 



102 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



have a lot of fancy features, but it will handle all of 
the basic spreadsheet functions, costs less than 
most other spreadsheets, and even has a few inno- 
vative features found only in expensive financial 
modeling programs or integrated spreadsheet 
packages. 

EasyCalc provides a worksheet of 254 rows by 52 
columns, gives you 16 digit precision, has an on- 
line help facility, keeps its data files in ASCII for 
easy access from your other programs, calculates 
properly even if your formula has a "forward refer- 
ence" (most spreadsheets must use strict column- 
by-column or row-by-row calculations), allows con- 
solidation by externally referencing other spread- 
sheets, and has variable column widths, including 
total suppression of columns when desired. 

EasyCalc is not without flaws. It is currently de- 
signed to recognize memory up to 128K, but no 
more. Columns are designated with both lower- 
case and uppercase letters (a-z and A-Z), requiring 
use of the Shift key to move around the sheet 
(other sheets use A-Z and AA-ZZ). 

The manual is small but comprehensive and in- 
cludes a tutorial section. A relatively complete in- 
come tax package is included with the program, a 
nice feature. No quick reference card is provided. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive : 
Norell Data Systems, $99.95 



EASYPLANNER 

EasyPlanner gives the user a larger work area 
than such first and second generation spread- 
sheets as SuperCalc and VisiCalc. In theory, it al- 
lows 255 rows and 255 columns, or over 65,000 
possible cells; in practice, this is limited by the 
amount of available memory. Included in the pro- 
gram are a number of more advanced features, 
such as multiple width columns,. if/then capability, 
consolidation of multiple worksheets, and a rea- 
sonably good report generator. For more complex 
reports, EasyPlanner can feed information to its 
companion program, Easy Writer II. However, this 
procedure is more complicated than it should be. 

Various functions are available to simplify the 
creation of a spreadsheet, including exponentia- 
tion, horizontal and vertical lookup tables, net fu- 
ture value,, net present value, future value, and 
present value. Perhaps the most powerful feature 
is a reasonably complete programming capability. 
The manual is fairly complete, but difficult to use. 



Examples tend to be too cryptic on some of the 
more complex functions. . 
Requirements: IBM PC, 96K RAM, two disk drive 
Information Unlimited Software, $250 - 

ELITE-CALC 

VisiCalc revolutionized the microcomputer soft- 
ware industry several years ago by providing a 
powerful business tool for modest systems. Color 
Computer users have had to wait for a spreadsheet 
program of VisiCaic's caliber on their machine, but 
Elite-Caic made the wait worthwhile. 

Elite Software sacrificed nothing to bring a full- 
feature spreadsheet to the CoCo. In fact, the only 
drawbacks EHte-Calc has are due to the computer, 
not the software. Although Elite Software claims 
Elite-Gale can handle 255 rows by 255 columns of 
data, it is limited by the amount of memory avail- 
able. On a 32K CoCo, about 20K can be used for 
data. This allows for considerably less workspace 
than claimed. 

Also, EHte-Calc uses the CoCo's 32-by-16-char- 
acter screen format. This is not really a problem as 
the program scrolls horizontally and vertically, but 
it permits little data to appear on the screen at one 
time. 

EHte-Calc has a big advantage over its competi- 
tors: It runs under the standard Radio Shack oper- 
ating system, in both disk and cassette versions. 
Others require the sophisticated FLEX or OS-9, 
which are expensive. This, combined with a rela- 
tively low price, makes it practical for the home 
user to have the services of a spreadsheet. 

A full complement of math, relational and logic 
operators are available, as well as trig and log func- 
tions SIN, COS, TAN, ATN, LOG, EXP, and SGR. 
Elite-Calc's editing functions include delete, move, 
or insert columns or rows, it also, has a feature that 
lets the user duplicate data from one cell of the 
spreadsheet to another. 

Serious business software is available to the 
Color Computer user, and EHte-Calc is the proof. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Color Computer 
Elite Software, $59.95 

MAGICALG 

MagiCalc is an electronic spreadsheet program 
similar in many ways to VisiCalc but offering some 
unique features of its own. Like VisiCalc, it uses a 
worksheet format of 254 rows and 63 columns, with 
the video screen acting as a movable window. 



Spreadsheet Programs 



103 



Commands are invoked using the "/" followed by a 
series of single letters. In fact, a person familiar 
with VisiCalc can use MagiCalc without even con- 
sulting the manual. 

Why should you consider purchasing MagiCalc'? 
Well, first off, it is $100 cheaper, and even more of 
a bargain compared to VisiCalc — Advanced Ver- 
sion. Next, consider the following. Designed to be 
fully compatible with the Apple lie, it operates 
equally as well on the Apple II. Multiple memory 
boards, up to 51 2K total, are supported, as are 
most 80-column cards. You even have the option of 
using a built-in 70-column display that requires no 
additional hardware. Generated on the high-reso- 
lution screen, the 70-column display does burn up 
about 12K of memory that would otherwise be 
available for data. Lowercase characters are al- 
lowed both on the Apple li, using the one-wire Shift 
key mode and lowercase adapter, and on the lie. 

Operation is very easy. Except for the spread- 
sheet itself, filing, printing, formatting, and system 
configuration are ail handled through easy-to-use 
menus. Even large worksheet printouts are auto- 
matically formatted to allow for page breaks and 
page width; the exact page format is variable. Data 
is stored as standard text files, though MagiCalc is 
fully compatible with both DIF and VisiCalc for- 
mats. 

. Advanced features include individually variable 
column widths, hiding of sensitive data within in- 
visible columns or cells, and protection of cells 
against accidental erasure. Additional cursor keys 
allow scrolling to the top left or bottom right of the 
worksheet and up or down ten cells at a time. 

Documentation consists of an 86-page tutorial 
plus a 168-page reference section bound. together 
in a loose-leaf binder with slipcase. A handy com- 
mand reference card completes the package. 

if you're in the market for a Calc-type program, 
consider this one. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + or lie, 48K RAM, disk 
drive '■■ 
Artsci, $149.95 

MICRO/PROPHIT 

Micro! Prophit is the microcomputer version of 
the Prophit II modeling language, a -powerful main- 
frame financial modeling system, if cost is a con- 
sideration, then this program is not for you. 
However, if financial productivity of your PC is your 
top objective, there isn't much that this package 



can't do for you. Learning to use this package is 
not easy, but the program's power makes up for 
the time invested. 

Your mode! may be up to 9,000 lines of code. 
Unlike some financial modeling programs, these 
lines are not in English, but in a financial program- 
ming language. Your analysis can contain up to 
120 columns. Operation codes are provided. to do 
logical tests, six methods of depreciation, com- 
pounding, net present value, internal, rate of return, 
discounting, amortization and multiple loan amor- 
tization, lookups in lookup tables, centered movt.ng 
averages, iterative looping, and scheduled factor- 
ing. 

At least two features are particularly noteworthy: 
An advanced "what-if" calculation lets you set a 
financial goal— say minimal investment for a given 
profit — 'and automatically seeks conditions to meet 
it. And Micro! 'Prophifs consolidation facility is the 
most powerful available in a spreadsheet. 

Fifteen ready-to-use models are available to per- 
form the more common business analyses. These 
include lease vs. buy analysis, capacity require- 
ments planning, capital investment analysis, multi- 
unit retail planning,. residential real estate develop- 
ment, and several models for specific industries, 
mostly financial institutions. 
Requirements; IBM PC, 192K RAM, two 320K disk 
drives 
ViaComputer, $3,000 : 

M1CROPLAN 

MicroPlan is Chang Labs' financial modeling 
program, part of their family of spreadsheet prod- 
ucts. The lower-end product is ProfitPlan, a spread- 
sheet program. Consolidation Module and Link 
Module are add-on programs that allow consolida- 
tion of multiple worksheets and access to main- 
frame computer data. 

Although MicroPlan has some advanced fea- 
tures, it is relatively hard to learn because num- 
bered commands are used instead of the more 
common Englishlike commands. To ease the pain 
somewhat, MicroPlan has included a menu listing 
the numbered commands on the screen. Unfortu- 
nately, not all commands are shown at one time, 
and an unfamiliar user will have to search through 
seVerai menus to find the needed command. 

Available commands include reorder (to swap,, 
insert, or delete rows or columns), inverse, floor 
and ceiling (to compare values to designated high 



104 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



or low values), depreciate, amortize, discounted 
cash flow, internal rate of return, ratios, tables, and 
tax calculation. Many of the financial modeling 
packages now available include consolidation of 
several worksheets as part of the standard pack- 
age. MicroPlan sells it as a separate module at an 
additional price. ■ 

The manual is complete and easy to use and in- 
cludes a tutorial section. No quick reference card 
is provided, however. 

Requirements: CP/M or MS-DOS, 64K RAM, disk 
drive 
Chang Laboratories, $495 

MULTIPLAN 

Multiplan is one of the second generation of 
spreadsheet programs. Its designers have noted 
the deficiencies of the first spreadsheets and 
added many of the features most often requested 
by knowledgable users. The result is both conve- 
nient and powerful. 

Someone who has already used VisiCalc or 
SuperCalc will have to spend some time getting 
accustomed to the structure of Multiplan, but be- 
ginners will find data entry fast and quite easy. All 
the standard spreadsheet features are available, 
and a number of relatively novel ones. ■ 

One feature that Multiplan offers is new to 
spreadsheet programs: the ability to name a group 
of cells and then use the name instead of the cell 
locations. For example, instead of referring to 
R1C1:R7C9, this range of cells can be named 
Sales. Then whenever sales information is needed, 
it can be called up by simply typing Sales. This 
gives Multiplan applications much of the flexibility 
of a programming language. ■'■■■■■■■■ 

Another new feature is the ability to link several 
sheets together, allowing the user to build a system 
of sheets much larger than any single one could 
be. Because Multiplan sheets are limited to only 63 
columns and 254 rows, linking helps to keep Multi- 
plan competitive with programs like 1-2-3, which 
allow much larger working areas. However, one 
limitation to the use of linked sheets must be 
noted: When a change is made to the first in a 
series of sheets, the user must load and recalculate 
the others, or the final sheet will not be correct. 
This missing feature, called forward recalculation, 
is available in several other second-generation 
spreadsheet programs. 
All spreadsheet programs will do "what-if" cal- 



culations, where the user changes the value of a 
variable and the program computes the changes in 
the rest of the spreadsheet; that is their purpose. 
The problem with most is that when the bottom line 
of a spreadsheet does not suit the user's needs, 
other variables must be entered and the whole pro- 
cess of trial and error performed over again. Multi- 
plan tries variables iteratively: It allows the user to 
enter a target value for a calculated variable and iet 
the program try a series of variables until the de- 
sired result is found. This "goal-seeking"' function 
puts Multiplan in a class with much more costly 
and complicated planning software. 

Multiplan also offers many advanced mathemati- 
cal functions and display formats. It is "especially 
strong in the area of text formatting and manipula- 
tion, providing such BASIC-like functions as Value, 
allowing text to be used as numeric data in calcu- 
lation, and Len, calculating the length of a string of 
characters. Up to eight windows can be used at 
one time, data can be sorted using one column as 
a key; and many printing formats are available. 

The manual is complete and well written, and the 
program has a good on-line help facility. This is 
"context sensitive," automatically showing the 
user the help screen that relates to the function 
currently in use. 

In all, Multiplan is a very strong entrant in. the 
spreadsheet market. It should be popular for some 
time to come. 

Requirements: CP/M or MS DOS, 64K RAM, one 
disk drive, 80-column display 
Microsoft, $250 . 

NUMBER CRUNCHER 

A financial modeling program designed to pro- 
duce finished reports, Number Cruncher employs 
a "forms fill-in" approach. Once created, the forms 
— "templates" in traditional spreadsheet terminol- 
ogy—offer the advantages of providing rapid and 
simple data entry. However, the inherent design of 
the "forms" approach is rigid'and time-consuming. 
Number Cruncher does provide a convenient and 
significantly easier way to blend text and calcu- 
lated data on the same page. But these features 
can be accomplished on most second-generation 
spreadsheets without sacrificing flexibility. ■: 

Producing a desired report with Number 
Cruncher involves a series of steps based on the 
actual report format and defining the arithmetic re- 
lationships between the number fields or cells. 



Spreadsheet Programs 



105 



Starting with a blank screen, you first create the 
report, called "model format," onscreen, exactly as 
you would like it to print out Instead of actual num- 
bers, however, you leave "Xs". M $XX,XXX.XX," for 
example, would indicate a seven digit, two-deci- 
mal, currency-format cell. Cells and text can be 
placed anywhere. Up to 3,400 cells on ten pages 
can be designated. 

•Once you have setup this model, Number 
Cruncher will print out a "Layout Sheet"— the 
same mode! but with individual indentifying num- 
bers replacing each cell. The next step is to de- 
scribe each cell, telling Number Cruncher whether 
it will contain a number to be keyed in, a constant, 
or a calculated result from other ceils. The formula 
for calculated cells resembles BASIC; for example, 
the formula for Cell 3, the sum of Cells 1 and 2 is 
ADD (0001) TO (0002) GIVING (0003). When all the 
ceils have been defined, Number Cruncher redis- 
plays the original model format, giving you the 
chance to enter in cell values and calculating re- 
sults in a manner similar to a tern plated spread- 
sheet. 

Compared to current spreadsheets, Number 
Cruncher's design is tedious and time-consuming. 
What you are actually doing is breaking into three 
separate processes what standard spreadsheets do 
in one. Changing the mode! by adding in new cells 
or radically redesigning the model format consti- 
tutes redoing virtually the entire process. Most 
spreadsheets allow tremendous flexibility, perhaps 
their biggest attribute. Number Cruncher simply 
does not. Besides basic design weaknesses, Num- 
ber Cruncher lacks the productivity aids now stan- 
dard on more sophisticated spreadsheets. These 
include predefined cell formats, a wealth of statis- 
tical and arithmetic functions, and automatic or 
manual calculation. 

The forms approach, due to its consistent focus 
on the final report, may make for simplified data 
entry, especially for inexperienced operators. But 
the lengthy development and rigid alteration pro- 
cess poses a far g reater tradeoff. 
Requirements: MS-DOS, 128K RAM, two disk 
drives, 132-column printer or compressed font 
Pyramid Data, $395 '..: ' 

PEACHCALC 

Peachtree Software is best known for their ac- 
counting programs, but they also produce many 
general purpose programs. One is PeachCalc, a 



first-generation spreadsheet package. Like Visi- 
Calc, PeachCalc allows the user to input informa- 
tion and formulas into cells and then perform what- 
if calculations on the data. 

The PeachCalc worksheet is 254 rows by 64 col- 
umns, or over 16,000 cells. Each of the cells can be 
filled with data, text, or formulas. Selected columns 
or rows can be locked in place as titles, while the 
rest of the worksheet is scrolled for easy viewing of 
the entire sheet. Split screen viewing is available so 
that two different areas may be viewed at one time. 
An online help facility is available at any time. 

PeachCalc is slower than some newer spread- 
sheets, and provides less worksheet space, but it is 
adequate for most applications that the average 
user is likely to have in mind. Cells can be pro- 
tected from accidental erasure or data entry, and 
columns can be of a different width. Editing is easy, 
so formulas don't have to be completely reentered 
for a simple mistake. Several worksheets may be 
combined into one as long as adequate memory is 
available. Either values or formulas can be dis- 
played, allowing the user to check for correct inter- 
actions. ; 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, two disk drives 
Peachtree Software, $150 

PERFECT CALC 

Perfect Calc is not perfect, but it does have a 
variety of interesting features. The worksheet size 
is 255 rows by 52 columns, somewhat less than the 
standard for this type of program, and maximum 
memory is limited to 64K. This memory limitation is 
overcome by the program's ability to link sheets 
together into a spreadsheet system. The Associate 
Files command is quite powerful, automatically re- 
membering which sheets are dependent upon each 
other and the proper order in which to link the. 
spreadsheets. 

Recalculation of the current spreadsheet works 
In coiumn-by-coiumn or row-by-row order, so for- 
ward references must be avoided. However, Per- 
fect Calc allows regional recalculation of specific 
areas of the sheet, so the user need not recalculate 
the whole sheet at once. Columns are designated 
with both lowercase and uppercase letters, requir- 
ing the user to press the Shift key to move around 
the sheet. Files are stored in standard ASCII, allow- 
ing you to transfer data from program to program, 
including this company's Perfect Writer and Per- 
fect Filer. 



106 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



, The manual is complete and comprehensive, in- 
cluding a tutorial section. A Function-key template 
and a quick reference card are provided. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive 
Perfect Software, $295 

PLAN80 

While most spreadsheet programs allow only a 
single worksheet, Plan80 is actually a financial 
modeling program that can automatically link an 
unlimited number of worksheets. The user, freed 
from remembering how the sheets tie together, 
gets about the business of planning. Commands 
are written in simple English instead of formulas 
and are created separately from the data. This 
eliminates much of the "cursor tour" that most 
spreadsheet programs take you on during model 
creation. Unfortunately, the model must be created 
with an editor or word processor, increasing the 
expense to the end user. 

Automatic replication of information, across all 
columns or down all rows, saves time during data 
entry. A powerful if/then/else facility allows con- 
struction of complex models. Calculation is done 
in the order required, rather than in the upper-left 
to lower-right fashion of most spreadsheets pro- 
grams. Reporting capabilities are strong, allowing 
the printing of formal multi-page reports with little 
user intervention. Limited graphics capabilities are 
also provided. Special functions include averages, 
amortization, various trigonometric functions, 
lookup tables, internal rate of return, net present 
value, and several methods of depreciation, includ- 
ing ACRS. 

Requirements: CP/M, 64K RAM; IBM PC, PC-DOS, 
128K RAM; two disk drives : .. 
Digitai.Marketing, $295 ... 

PLANSTAR 

: PlanStar is a financial modeling system from 
MicroPro. Though similar to their CalcStar spread- 
sheet program, it is significantly more powerful. 
Separate data and calculation rules simplify con- 
solidations and multiple what-if questions. Plan- 
Star uses a "sequential logic" system to 
accomplish this goal, with the logic written in En- 
glish instead of using formulas. 

PlanStar provides many specialized financial 
functions to save the user/programmer from rein- 
venting the wheel. Included are functions to do 
depreciation, discounting, amortization, consoli- 



dation, internal rate of return, moving averages, net 
present value, salvage value, and best fit. A com- 
plete report generator prints data out for use in 
formal presentations. Some graphics capabilities 
are included, but for professional applications, a 
stand-alone graphics package will normally be 
needed. - 

PlanStar includes a complete manual that pro- 
vides many examples and an easy to follow tutorial 
section. A quick reference manual is also provided. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
MicroPro, $695 ... •. ... 

PROOF 

VisiCalc, one of the most popular and widely 
used programs, performs many great and wonder- 
ful feats of magic. One thing it does not do, how- 
ever, is allow the printing out of the cell formulas to 
show how each calculation was derived. Proof 
does just that. It gives you a spreadsheet printout 
of all the assumptions and formulas that went into 
planning your VisiCalc model. Printing each for- 
mula in the same format as your model, you or 
anyone else can see exactly what produced the end 
result. Even very long formulas are printed in their 
entirety in their correct position. During spread- 
sheet development, Proof can be very helpful in 
picking up where you left off the day before, or in 
seeking out logic errors. 

Proof will print out your VisiCalc models in three 
different formats: in row sequence in either a one- 
or two-column list; in column sequence in either a 
one or two column list; and in a grid.format the way 
your VisiCalc model normally prints out. The pro- 
gram will print models with maximum limts of 63 
columns and 255 rows—the same as Ws/Ca/c— but 
not both limits at the same time. Proof will process 
approximately 1,200 ceils on a 48K machine and 
over 2,000 cells on a 64K system. While this repre- 
sents a relatively large model, a 64K machine is 
capable of building a 5,000-cell model. Large 
models do take considerable time to load, as the 
program builds a cell-lookup table in memory. 
Memory housekeeping may require even more 
time. 

All in all Proof is a very useful utility for anyone 
who uses VisiCalc extensively and builds complex 
models. Sample files are included on the reverse 
side of the copy- protected program disk. A com- 
prehensive 17-page user manual comes with the 
program. 



Spreadsheet Programs 



107 



Requirements: Apple li or lie, one disk drive 
MicroSPARC, $49.95 

REPORT MANAGER 

Most electronic spreadsheet programs show 
clear evidence of their VisiCalc heritage. Report 
Manager is no exception. 
. The slash (/) commands familiar to VisiCalc users 
are there, along with all of the functions that we 
have come to expect in spreadsheet programs. But 
Report Manager Is not just another VisiCalc I ooka- 
like. Along with many of the refinements so sorely 
needed in the original VisiCalc, Report Manager 
introduces at least two original enhancements to 
the spreadsheet idea. 

"Data cube" is a unique idea that adds impres- 
sive flexibility to the basic spreadsheet, it enables 
you to create "pages" of templates as part of the 
same file. Thus, the familiar two-dimensional 
spreadsheet of horizontal rows and vertical col- 
umns becomes three-dimensional through the ad- 
dition of pages that can be "turned." 

Another feature, Exec Language, allows the user 
to create multiple-screen programs that require 
user response. This makes it easy to design menu- 
like arrangements complete with prompts that can 
be used to allow persons other than the creator of 
a template to learn how to use it quickly and easily. 
However, since Exec Language is a form of pro- 
gramming language, putting it to practical use is 
going to require some study and practice time. 

Report Manager offers the full range of functions 
including absolute value, average, integer, and 
look-up, plus a day-of-the-week calculator that 
converts a conventional month/day/year entry into 
the proper day of the week. There is also a HELP 
key, F1 on the IBM PC keyboard, that offers sug- 
gestions related directly to the function in process 
when HELP is requested. 

The documentation is professionally illustrated 
and nicely bound and printed. With ail of its fea- 
tures, Report Manager would be capable of just 
about any task that you would expect from a 
spreadsheet program. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive 
Datamenslon Corp., $399 

SENIOR ANALYST 

Spreadsheet programs for the Apple at one time 
were limited to one, but today they come in many 
varieties and colors. Senior Analyst, designed as a 



middle-management planning tool, takes a slightly 
different approach to the subject and offers some 
unique features. 

instead of moving a cursor from cell to cell, en- 
tering text and difficult-to-Understand formulas, 
English-language abbreviation's or "tags" are en- 
tered to specify calculation rules. For example, 
COST=.3 * LABR +" .4 * MATL instead of 
B6 = (.3*B2) + (.4*B3). Entered in orderly lists as 
row, column, or global definitions, rules may be 
specified without regard to particular row and col- 
umn positions. And longer labels may be assigned 
to tags for improved clarity on screen displays and 
printouts. 

Models are organized in "pages" for ease of use. 
Values can be passed between pages which may 
be linked together to build infinitely large complex 
models. Although each page is limited to 50 rows 
and 17 columns of values, each disk holds up to 9 
pages with no limit to the number of disks. .■■.■■■■.■ 

Built-in calculation functions include: straight- 
line, sum-of-digits, and declining balance depre- 
ciation, compound growth rate, linear regression 
forecasting, plus many others. 

An excellent report generator provides freedom 
to create attractive reports by affording the user 
complete control over headers and footers, titles 
and subtitles, numeric format and column/row 
header width. A built-in print spooler allows data 
entry or model evaluation while printing is in prog- 
ress. 

The documentation is excellent, with two man- 
uals, a 70-page tutorial and a 176-page reference 
manual. Many sample models are included, along 
with a handy folding reference card. 

There are only a couple of problems. The manual 
is unclear about what 80-column cards are sup- 
ported; it merely states "will tolerate some." The 
other is the use of nonstandard files. Passing of 
data to other programs is not supported. 

All in ail, this is a very powerful and useful tool. 
Requirements: Apple II + , 64K RAM, two disk 
drives 
Apple Computer and Business Solutions, Inc., $225 

SUPERCALC 

After VisiCalc came SuperCalc. It took the basic 
ideas that were pioneered by VisiCalc and added 
features that the marketplace had been asking for: 
individually variable column widths, hidden col- 
umns, built-in help function, protected cells, more 



708 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



powerful formatting control, 16-digit precision, 
limited programming, better error handling and the 
ability to load a partial file. 

SuperCalc is a member of a family of spread- 
sheets that includes SuperCalc 2, and SuperCalc 3 . 
It is the least capable of the three, but remains 
more powerful than the VisiCalc that carried micro- 
computers into the business world. It also offers 
the lowest price. 

SuperCalc was designed for CP/M systems but 
has been adapted to the IBM PC and many other 
computers. It provides a spreadsheet of 254 rows 
by 63 columns, allows two windows on the screen 
at one time, has a complete set of built in functions 
and the ability to use the Superdata Interchange 
utility to exchange information between several 
types of data storage formats. The exchange func- 
tion allows the user to exchange Information with 
other programs, such as WordStar and VisiCalc. 

SuperCalc's manual is clear and easy to use. It 
provides 12 lessons that teach the computer owner 
how to use all of the commands and functions in a 
step-by-step fashion. 

Requirements: CP/M, CPM-86, or IBM PC, 48K 
RAM, disk drive 
Sorcim, $195 

SUPERCALC 2 

Sorcim provides three different spreadsheets 
with increasing capabilities. SuperCalc 2 Is the in- 
termediate version. It offers all of the same func- 
tions of the original SuperCalc plus some 
important new features. If you need lots of power, 
own an IBM PC, and can spend more money, buy 
SuperCalc 3 ; if you are on a limited budget or own a 
computer that does not offer IBM-style graphics, 
this program provides plenty of power for the 
money. 

One of the interesting new features is the "Hide" 
function, which allows you to shield confidential 
data from prying eyes. The calendar functions 
allow you to enter a date into the spreadsheet and 
then refer to that date in your calculations. The 
Arrange command allows the sorting of columns 
or rows within a spreadsheet Sorting may be done 
in ascending or descending sequence, and can in- 
clude partial or full columns or rows. 

Execute allows you to program a series of com- 
mands and save the information in a file for later 
use. A new feature added to the Execute command 
is the ability to suspend automatic processing to 



allow data entry and then to resume processing 
with the new information. A most useful new fea- 
ture is the ability to consolidate information from a 
disk file with the contents of a spreadsheet. For 
example, a user can combine monthly files to get 
- year-to-date figures. 

The manual provided with this program is excel- 
lent. It includes a tutorial and plenty of examples to 
get the new user started. 

Requirements: CP/M, CPM-86, or IBM PC; 64K 
RAM, disk drive 
Sorcim, $295 . 

SUPERCALC 3 

The most powerful of the three spreadsheets of- 
fered by Sorcim Corporation is SuperCalc 3 . Similar 
to the popular Lotus 1-2-3 in capabilities, Super- 
Calc 3 is lower in price by $1 00. The user who needs 
a powerful integrated package should compare the 
features of these two packages to find which fits 
their needs better, as there are several important 
differences. 

SuperCalc* provides one of the most compre- 
hensive graphics facilities available as part of an 
integrated package. It can generate more types of 
graph than 1-2-3 and does a better job of displaying 
the information. 

The program's data management capabilities are 
comparable to those of other integrated packages. 
Although this program can't replace the special- 
ized capabilities of a stand-alone database man- 
ager, it does allow selection of desired data by 
using various criteria. Once the data is found, it can 
be output to another area of the sheet or scanned 
on the console. Owners of SuperCalc 2 or the orig- 
inal SuperCalc will find that their files are upwardly 
compatible. 

Sorcim provides a complete manual with a refer- 
ence section and a tutorial section, two easy-refer- 
ence cards, and a manual with detailed 
instructions for using a conversion program called 
Superdata Interchange (SDI). SDI can be used to 
exchange information between SuperCalc 3 and 
other programs, such as WordStar. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 96K RAM, two double- 
sided disk drives 
Sorcim, $395 

TARGET FINANCIAL MODELING 

Target Financial Modeling is a good financial 
modeling system from Comshare. It allows the con- 



Spreadsheet Programs 



109 



solidation of many spreadsheets to develop ex- 
tremely complex models that more closely mimic 
the real world than most spreadsheet programs 
can. Formulas in Target are written in an English- 
like command language that makes data input easy 
and fast. 

Target provides functions to manipulate the data 
using simple commands. Functions available in- 
clude net present value, weighting, consolidation, 
internal rate of return, compound growth, and if/ 
then/else conditions. It is not as powerful in this 
area as some of the more expensive modeling 
tools. Format commands are powerful enough to 
create a report that can be used in a meeting or 
formal presentation. 

A nice feature is the ability to split the screen 
vertically, horizontally, or into quadrants. This al- 
lows the viewing of what-if caiculations on four dif- 
ferent areas at one time. No graphics are provided, 
however. For users with little time or experience to 
develop their own models, Comshare sells a library 
of general business applications. 

Target Financial Modeling includes a reasonably 
complete manual that starts the user with a tutorial 
and builds up to the more advanced functions. No 
quick reference card is provided. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, disk drive 
Comshare, $325; applications library $125 



VISICALC 

The original spreadsheet program, VisiCalc is 
credited with popularizing the use of personal 
computers. The kind of calculating and organizing 
power that VisiCaic gave users was a major break- 
through in personal computer software. The, origi- 
nal version of VisiCalc is limited by a lack of 
memory space, making the size of a spreadsheet 
too small for serious users. A newer version is able 
to take advantage of up to 256K of memory. With 
64K, the user has only 22K left to hold a spread- 
sheet. With 256K, the spreadsheet can be 21 4K. 
The program provides a grid of up to 63 columns 
and 254 rows in which to store and manipulate in- 
formation, but memory limitations may limit you to 
smaller working areas. 

The manual includes a tutorial section and a ref- 
erence section that makes it easy for the beginner 
to get started. Most functions are well explained, 
with useful examples. Because of Ws/Ca/c's popu- 
larity, there are many "how-to" books available for 



the user who wants to get the most out of this pro- 
gram. 

A reasonable number of mathematical, logical 
and lookup functions are provided, but newer pro- 
grams on the market tend to have more functions. 
Sorting, graphics, programming of certain key se- 
quences, rearrangement of rows and columns, Var- 
iable column widths and simulated database 
features are not supported in this version. The user 
who needs more advanced features should try 
VisiCalc IV, which is a combination of VisiCalc and 
StretchCalc selling for the same price; but it re- 
quires 192K of memory and two disk drives. 1 
Requirements: IBM PC, PC DOS, 64K, one disk 
drive, display (monochrome or color) or TV set 
VisiCorp, $250 

VISICALC IV 

VisiCaic IV is a program that combines the origi- 
nal VisiCaic with a program called StretchCalc, 
adding several new and important features to this 
IBM version of the old standby spreadsheet. Al- 
though the new features do not bring VisiCalc IV 
up to the same level of functionality as state-of-the- 
art programs such as Multiplan and Lotus 1-2-3, 
the cost is quite a bit lower, and the functions are 
enough for all but the most demanding user. 

One feature that many users of the old VisiCalc 
will welcome is the addition of sorting capabilities. 
One sort key is allowed, and the sort may be con- 
sidered "temporary" or "permanent." A temporary 
sort has the ability to be "undone," putting the file 
back into its original sequence. 

The new graphing feature creates graphs from 
your worksheet. The types of graphs supported 
are: bar charts, pie charts, line graphs, scatter dia- 
grams, dot graphs, area graphs, component 
graphs, and high/low close graphs. The graphs can 
be displayed on color or monochrome monitors or 
printed on a graphics printer. 

Moving columns or rows from one place to an- 
other is greatly simplified in the new version by 
using the rearrange option of the Move command. 
This option moves one or more rows to the top of 
the worksheet or one or more columns to the left 
side of the worksheet. As with the sort option, the 
moves can be permanent or temporary, and if tem- 
porary, can be undone with the push of a button. 
This is especially nice for setting up columns the 
way you want them for printing, and then going 
back to the original sequencing. 



110 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



A command called "Keysaver" allows you to as- 
sign sequences keystrokes to each Function key or 
letter on your keyboard, up to 67 sequences in all. 
Later, when you press a Function key the program 
automatically does your typing for you. The main- 
tenance options let you create, edit, clear, print, 
store, and retrieve your keystroke sequences from 
the disk. The obvious advantage is the ability to set 
up a rather complex series of keystrokes that you 
perform regularly. The "program" Is then available 
whenever you need it, saving typing time and pre- 
venting costly typing mistakes. Each sequence can 
contain up to 80 characters, enough for a fairly 
complex task. 

A concept now appearing in, spreadsheet pro- 
grams is the use of worksheet as a database. Visi- 
Calc IV allows the user to view the data as if it were 



in a visual database. Selection of information ac- 
cording to specific criteria is allowed. 

VisiCalc IV includes most of the needed mathe- 
matical, logical, and lookup functions, but some of 
the newer programs on the market offer still more 
functions. For specialized users, one of these may 
be preferable. 

The manual includes a tutorial section and a ref- 
erence section that make it easy for the beginner to 
get started. Most functions are well explained, with 
useful examples. Because of Ws/Ca/c's popularity, 
there are many how-to books available for the user 
who wants to get the most out of this program. . • 
Requirements: IBM PC, PC-DOS, 192K RAM, two 
disk drives ■ 
VisiCorp, $250 : 



GRAPHICS 



111 



Fueled by the appearance of magnificent on- 
screen images in virtually every magazine and 
television ad for computers, computer graphics 
programs have proliferated wildiy in the last few 
years. Today, there is a bewildering number of 
choices for the computer owner looking to do 
something more with hardware than write letters or 
balance checkbooks. At last count, there were 
some 200 graphics programs on the market, with 
more coming out each week. 

Fortunately, we need not search through all 200 
Items to find the software we need. Graphics pro- 
grams fall into only half a dozen categories, and 
you don't need more than one of each type, any 
more than you need more than one good word pro- 
cessor or database manager. 

The programs have an enormous range. For 
those serious about their computing, there are 
graphics programming languages. These allow you 
to write your own program that calls up and dis- 
plays different graphics primitives. There are inter- 
active drawing/painting programs that let you draw 
lines, boxes, circles, and more complex forms; fill 
them with color, rotate and mirror them, copy them 
to different parts of the screen, and so forth. Mostly 
those who use these languages do their program- 
ming just for the fun of it : 

For the serious businessman, there are special- 
ized graphics packages. These are intended to 
make it easier to visualize data sets and clearly 
show trends in business. And there are presenta- 
tion graphics packages that create all manner of 
pie charts, line, and bar graphs and format them 
for use in business presentations. 

Both presentation and business graphics pro- 
grams are usually menu driven; you build charts or 
pictures by responding to questions the program 
asks. Then there are shape table programs. These 
allow you to create special lettering styles or sets 
of symbols, store them on an electronic "tem- 
plate," then use them as elements of a larger 
image. 

Other graphics utility programs form yet another 
group— programs to create slide-show-like se- 
quences of graphics created with other programs, 
to compress picture files to achieve greater disk 
storage capability, or to perform other useful func- 
tions. 

And finally there is a group of programs called 
"screen dumps." They take the output of the termi- 
nal's graphics display and convert it into a form 



that can be printed out on a graphics-capable 
printer. Often, they also enhance the basic graph- 
ics image and add features to it. ' : 

Many programs combine several of these fea- 
tures into a single package designed for a particu- 
lar graphics application. The creation of 
architectural drawings in a CAD (computer aided 
design) program, for instance, often requires rou- 
tines for most of these functions. 

Most programs that create onscreen graphics 
rely on the process of bit mapping, achieved either 
internally by the computer or else through an add- 
on graphics card. Just as the computer's operating 
system organizes the RAM memory, and therefore 
the display screen, into discrete slots into which 
the cursor can write characters and numbers, so 
bit mapping organizes the RAM into, a series of 
even smaller slots, called pixels (picture elements). 
Each pixel is quite discrete, each has its own digital 
address in the RAM, and each can have its bit value 
set to either nul or a color. Drawing a colored line 
on the computer is therefore as simple as issuing a 
command that all the pixels between points A and 
B have their values set for the color red, for exam- 
ple. In an interactive program, the cursor is moved 
from pixel to pixel on the screen, changing bit val- 
ues as it goes. In the most sophisticated systems, a 
mouse or an electronic stylus and digitizing tablet 
are used to address the pixels over which they 
travel. 

Tied in with the ideas of bit mapping and pixel 
addressing is resolution— a measure of how many 
different pixels make up the screen and therefore 
how many pixels define each line that is drawn. 
{Resolution is especially important where diago- 
nalsand curved lines are concerned. Low resolu- 
tion produces "jaggies"- — staircaselike lines— 
instead of smooth curves). The more pixels per 
screen, the clearer the picture that can be drawn 
on it. The most elaborate— and expensive — graph- 
ics screens can display 2000 by 2000 pixels, better 
resolution than many 35mm cameras. (Statements 
of resolution traditionally give the number of verti- 
cal pixels first. This is limited in most cases to the 
number of lines in the TV display.) 

Resolution also has a direct relationship with 
color. In a black-and-white graphics screen, each 
pixel is either on or off. Technically, this means that 
only one bit of information is needed to set the 
pixel value. Typical resolutions for black-and-white 
graphics are the IBM's 640 by 200 and 560 by 192 



112 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



for the Apple. With color, however, each pixel must 
have its value set to a particular color. This requires 
a minimum of three bits per pixel in a system de- 
signed to -display eight colors at once. Since this 
occupies considerable RAM space, typical color 
pixel resolution is considerably lower than in 
black-and-white systems— 320 by 200 for the IBM 
and 1 40 by 1 92 for the Apple. 

Resolution and how much memory is tied up in 
defining color has far-ranging implications in 
graphics program design: It is possible to add bits 
which either increase the number of color choices 
or add black and white shading to a standard color 
set. The more bits that are used to define colors, 
the less space that is available to carry on the other 
program functions. Eight-bit computers are almost 
always limited to 64K of memory space, and many 
16-bit computers offer only 128K. Whatever the 
graphics program does, it must accomplish within 
those limits. 

One. solution is to limit the number of color 
choices to just three, plus black and white, freeing 
up extra bits to handle program load. Another, 
adopted by several programs, is to avoid displaying 
the image on the screen. Instead, they simply store 
the information necessary to create the graphic 
and rely on hardcopy from a plotter to show the 
design. This also makes it possible to increase the 
resolution of the system, since a plotter is not 
bounded by the resolution of the screen display 
itself. ■.;,.-.: 

Given these basic principles, what can a given 
color graphics program do for you? The specific 
capabilities are described in the individual reviews. 
But it is important to realize that there is nothing 
"mystical" about graphics. As far as your computer 
is concerned, it is still dealing with bits and bytes 
that could as easily be a stream of numbers for a 
database as a pie chart or original artistic compo- 
sition.co. . .;'.'..:■ 

ALPHA PLOT; APPLE MECHANIC 

These two programs come from the renegade of 
the software business— Beagle Bros., which mar- 
kets a whole series of products for Apple computer 
enthusiasts. Their programs are completely unpro- 
tected and may be used in your own programs 
without extra license fees. The style of both the 
software and documentation is extremely chatty, 
designed for those who are already quite familiar 
with the Apple and want to know all the inside 



tricks about using it Therefore, supplied with every 
Beagle Bros, package is a wall chart listing dozens 
and dozens of Peek and Poke commands, plus spe- 
cial programming pointers. And each program 
manual is also filled with dozens of tips on pro- 
gramming, both connected with the program you 
bought and other useful information. As if this wer- 
en't enough, you also automatically receive a free 
newsletter with your software, full of even more 
useful tips. It's like joining the Apple computer fan 

ClUbl • :.'■=.■■■> ■{<:}<: -: 

Alpha Plot itself is a graphics/text utility package 
that contains graphics routines designed to be in- 
corporated within Applesoft BASIC programs. The 
high-resolution drawing program allows you to use 
either the keyboard or a game paddle to draw lines 
with three different cursor styles. Drawing is either 
normal, or, with XDRAW, you get a rubber band 
effect in which a line is stretched from the last 
marked point to the new cursor position. You also 
have your choice of any color in the Apple palette. 
Single keystroke commands also allow you to draw 
circles, ellipses, and rectangles instantly, both 
filled and outline. Other utilities permit compres- 
sion of stored images for increased disk space, 
movement of images inside a window to either 
high-resolution page, mixing of two high-resolu- 
tion images for superimpositions, high-resolution/ 
low-resolution conversions, and. instant image in- 
version. : ' 

Apple Mechanic is also a series of utility pro- 
grams, some of which have direct uses in graphics. 
The main programs in this respect are two shape 
table editors— one for geometric shapes, the other 
for characters. Both are relatively easy to use. In- 
formation stored in' the tables is retrieved through 
Applesoft BASIC commands, with little extras such 
as proportional spacing with the character sets. In- 
cluded in the package are programs that make it 
possible to type the characters directly into graph- 
ics presentations using any font style that has been 
stored in the shape table. There are also three dem- 
onstration programs that illustrate the program's 
graphics capabilities. : v 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie; single disk 
drive; Applesoft BASIC 

Beagle Bros., Alpha Plot $39.50; Apple Mechanic 
$29.50 

APPLE FLASHER 

After you have finished creating graphics with 



Graphics 



113 



one of the other programs described in this chap- 
ter, you'll want this handy utility program to help 
manage your high-resolution binary files. ' 

Apple Flasher boots on the lie in nine seconds. 
After that, -you can check any data storage disk for 
binary picture files in less than two seconds, with a 
single keystroke command. After searching, the 
program 1 displays the names of the binary files' it 
has found and assigns each a keystroke character. 
With a single keystroke you can then display a bi- 
nary picture in less than two seconds, or flash 
through all 15 pictures on" a full disk in 23 to 30 
seconds.^' 

In addition to these cataloging functions, the 
program also provides for "slide show" presenta- 
tions as well, in the manual mode, either the key- 
board or a game paddle is used to go either 
forward or backward through the files on a disk- 
two disks if a second drive is present. Three images 
—the current slide, the next image up, and the one 
just past — remain loaded for instant recall, in the 
automatic mode, display time can be set for up to 
four minutes per image; the program cycles 
through any number of slides on either one or two 
drives. ■-■' 

Requirements: Apple lie or III, 48K RAM, disk drive, 
DOS 3.3; Apple II with Applesoft ROM card or 16K 
language card : ■ '-■■.:■■■■ 

Crow Ridge Associates, $34.50 : ■■"; 

APPLE II BUSINESS GRAPHICS 

Apple II Business Graphics is an easy-to-use pro- 
gram that does more than plot charts. Included are 
many mathematical and statistical functions not 
found in other packages. Among these are calcula- 
tion of the mean, minimum, maximum, standard 
deviation, variance, and sum for any set of data 
points. ' 

Curve-fitting capabilities can fit a set of data 
points to any of five curve functions, a constant, 
straight line, logarithm, parabola, or a sine func- 
tion. These same capabilities can also help with 
forecasting by extending a time line beyond the 
last data point. Future trends can also be plotted 
from moving averages. •". 

Rather than functioning from a menu, the pro- 
gram uses easy-to-remember English commands 
for its operation; there are over 120 in all. A tear- 
out Command Reference Card is included with the 
232-page manual. For example, once a set of data 
points have been entered, the command DRAW PIE 



or just DR P will produce a pie chart. Optional iden- 
tifiers control the number of colors, total area, and 
aspect ratio. • 

Graphs are displayed on the high-resolution 
screen in any of six colors using line, bar, or pie 
forms. Line graphs can use solid or dashed lines 
and the space beneath the lines can be color filled. 
Vertical and horizontal bar charts can be produced 
in three formats: vertically stacked, single, and up 
to four per label side-by-side bars. In addition, im- 
ages may be overlaid for comparative plots. " ■= '"■ • 

The manual is well done and very extensive. With 
the reference card and a help screen, operation is 
easy and straightforward. : ' ■• '"'"- : 

The program supports both printers and plotters 
for hard-copy production, but only two of each: the 
Silentype and Qume Sprint 5/45 printers and the 
Hewlett Packard 7225A/B and Houston Instruments 
HIPLOT plotters. Data points and the graphics 
screen can be saved to disk but because the pro- 
gram uses Pascal files, most graphics dump inter- 
faces and routines will not work with it. 

VisiCalc and Apple Plot data files may be read by 
the program, but you cannot transfer information 
back to standard DOS files. ' 
Requirements: Apple II, II + or lie, 64K RAM, two 
disk drives '■■"■■ 
Apple Computer, $175 ■■■ 

ARBPLOT 

This, graphics program is actually a teaching tool 
designed for use in college and advanced high 
school math courses. It provides visual representa- 
tions of geometric processes and concepts in ana- 
lytic geometry, differential calculus, and: integral 
calculus. As such, it comes with documentation la- 
beled "Instructor's Guide" and "Student's Guide." 
But don't let these academic trappings fool you. 
This is a high-quality graphics package that auto- 
matically plots curves, 3D curves,. lines, conic sec- 
tions, and so forth. 

Arbpiot is easier to use than it might be, largely 
because it is completely menu driven. In following 
the menu, you are basically defining the values for 
mathematical formulas whose graphic representa- 
tions are plotted and displayed by the program. 
Even if you have absolutely no knowledge of calcu- 
lus and higher math, it is possible to create and 
then save a variety of interesting shapes. Until you 
become quite proficient with the system, however, 
they may not be the ones you originally envisioned. 



114 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



The package is broken down into three groups of 
programs, (loaded from two write-protected disks): 
plotting curves, plotting calculus programs, and a 
program sequencer that mimics a slide show dis- 
play. :: 

Those who are unsure if this program is right for 
them can send for a demonstration disk, available 
for .only $2 shipping and handling. Also see the 
description of the Surface program below. 
Requirements: Apple II, disk drive, DOS 3.3. 
Conduit, $125 . 

ARTGRAPHICS; CHARTGRAPHICS; 
WORDGRAPHICS; VIEWER 

This rather exclusive group of programs is de- 
signed to complement one another to form a com- 
plete graphics package. Between them, they are 
capable of everything from painting to business 
graphics to slide-show-like presentations. They 
are, however, designed to run not on average home 
or small business computers, but on graphics ter- 
minals such as the Ramtek 6214 and Florida Com- 
puter Graphics Beacon — systems that can cost 
upwards of $35,000. The advantage is extremely 
fast processing and screen refresh—both occur 
within 5 to. 15 seconds; extremiy good resolution; 
and better-than-ordinary color selection — 16 col- 
ors may be displayed on the screen at once out of a 
possible choice of 256. 

Artgraphics is an interactive drawing/painting 
program designed for use either with a digitizing 
tablet or through the keyboard. Its initial setup is 
entirely menu driven. Besides the extensive color 
choices, you can select among six different 
"brush" sizes to create lines and opt to use an area 
fill program. For all images created with the Xybion 
programs, storage is in run-length encoded form 
rather than pixel-by-pixel, is common in most other 
systems. This considerably compresses the space 
required for image storage and aids in the rapid 
image processing. 

Chartgraphics is a menu driven business graph- 
ics program. Up to 520 data points may be entered 
on a line chart, manual and" automatic scaling are 
available, and both multiple axes and multiple 
charts may be displayed on the same plot. Bar 
chart may include either two- or three-dimensional 
bars, horizontal or vertical, with side-by-side, 
stacked, or clustered configurations, with up to 20 
clustered bars in 12 groups. Pie charts can be cre- 
ated in up to 25 segments, integral -or exploded, 



with chart values placed either inside or outside 
the segments. 

The Wordgraphics programs provides extensive 
character composition ability using a variety of 
fonts supplied with the program. These can be dis- 
played in many different sizes, outline or filled. The 
program also has a cut-and-paste feature allowing 
single letters or groups of letters to be moved or 
repeated anywhere on the screen. 
...Finally, Viewer allows the assembly of "slide 
trays" up to 30 images each, with either forward, 
backward, or random access sequencing. ••;.•• 
Requirements: Ramtek 6214 color graphics work- 
station with 128 K RAM, two disk drives; Florida 
Computer Graphics Beacon with CP/M, two disk 
drives. 

Xybion Graphics Systems Corp., Turnkey system 
with all software, Ramtek hardware, graphics cam- 
era for shooting images off CRT, $34,995; turnkey 
system with FGS hardware, graphics camera, 
$29,330; Software- packages sold separately begin- 
ning at $995 .,- 

ARTIST 

Artist is a truly versatile interactive two-dimen- 
sional art/graphics program at a truly reasonable 
price. It performs ail of the wonderful drawing and 
graphics functions that the IBM PC user is likely to 
need for some time to come. It is loaded from a 
single, unprotected floppy disk, allowing plenty of 
room for storage of graphics creations on the pro- 
gram disk. The only potential shortcoming is the 
lack of a fancy, color-printed program manual; but 
the typewritten sheets nonetheless provide a more 
than adequate description. 

Seventeen subroutines loaded into Function 
keys define the basic inventory of capabilities. Op- 
tion 0, for instance, displays instructions. Option 2 
sets the display for high- or low-resolution, allows 
text entry in 40- or 80-character formats, and lets 
you select a background and palette color in the 
low resolution mode. Options 2 through 5 allow 
points and lines to be drawn, using either cursor 
movement or entry of X/Y coordinates. Options 6 
through 10 allow the automatic plotting of basic 
geometric forms— triangle, rectangles, circles, el- 
lipses, and polygons composed of up to ten 
straight line segments — drawn after the user an- 
swers a simple set of prompts. Option 11 allows 
text entry within the image. 

More advanced graphics capabilities are defined 



Graphics 



115 



by menu choices. To fill a bounded area with color, 
for example, one uses a subroutine that asks for 
the interior and boundary colors of the object. An- 
other menu selection is Used to define a portion of 
the displayed image — a window — that can be 
saved in memory and then recalled for later use. 
One simply positions the cursor at the upper left 
corner of the window and types "W," then reposi- 
tions the cursor at the lower right corner of the 
window and types "W" again; the image in the win- 
dow is. automaticaiy saved. Portions of images or 
whole screens are retrieved with equal simplicity. 

Figure editing is also quite easy; It takes only 
single keystrokes to move the image up and down, 
left and right, rotate the figure clockwise or coun- 
terclockwise, erase the figure, invert foreground 
and background colors, enlarge and reduce the 
figure, and so forth. In this mode, the Function keys 
increase the angle and incrementation of the. 
moves described above. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, color graphics 
board 
Sunshine Computer Software, $75 

B/GRAPH 

B/Graph will produce graphs of many types on 
the screen and will print them as hard copy on 
compatible printers. The best feature of BiGraph is 
its flexibility. Once data is assembled and entered, 
point, line, area, 3-dimensional bar, and market 
graphs can be created and interchanged with one 
another automatically. The user determines what 
labels, axes, and scales the graph will exhibit. Bl 
Graph can also automatically determine the most 
space-efficient scale for a graph, and automatically 
label consecutive months or years, : 

Each graph can accomodate up to 100 data 
points for up to three different factors, though bar 
graphs are more limited in space constrictions. 
Graphs can also be overlaid for comparisons. 
Graphs can be arranged in sequence for automatic 
recall and a joystick-controlled pointer employed 
foreasy organization and demonstrations. • 

Utilities included with the program calculate and 
plot various statistical functions — including aver- 
ages, probabilities, standard deviations, and 
regressions. Data from ASCII files and VisiCalc files 
can be used with BiGraph and all graphs and data 
can be saved to disk. 

While B/Graph is easy to use, it is very compre- 
hensive .and therefore may require some time to 



become familiar with ail it can do. It is powerful 
enough to handle complex business applications. 
The manual not only provides clear instructions for 
use of the various programs, but gives a thorough 
discussion of the uses of graphs and statistical 
analysis. ■■■■:' 

Requirements: Atari, 48 K RAM, Atari BASIC, disk 
drive; compatible printers include Centronics, 
Epson/Gemini, C.iTOH/NEC/Prowriter, >' ! Seikosha 
AT/100, and Okidata 92 
Inhome Software, $99.95 

BANNER BUILDER 

Banner Builder is one of those inexpensive, sin- 
gle function programs that can be described by the ; 
word "nifty." Briefly, Banner Builder prints mes- 
sages approximately seven inches tali and three 
inches wide sideways on continuous form, paper. 
The. message can be up to 80 characters long and 
include any upper-case letter, number, or keyboard 
symbol. 

^he huge letters are printed using overstruck 
solid rectangles. Instead of solid rectangles, you 
can use any other keyboard character but only one 
character per message is allowed. Printers, listed 
on the main menu include the IBM Graphics 
Printer, Epson, Okidata, NEC/C. Itoh, and-JDS. The 
manual says that other printers are also supported. 

Operation is amazingly simple: Just type the 
message, choose the printer, change the print 
character from the solid rectangle default if de- 
sired, and go. the resultant banner, is proportion- 
ally spaced, extremely readable and, well, nifty. 

There are some caveats. Don't hold your, breath 
waiting for the banner to be completed. Each char- 
acter^ the message can take up to five minutes to 
print. Printing messages quickly turns a new rib- 
bon into an old one. Finally, consider a service 
contract for your printer if you use Banner Builder 
frequently. In normal operation, Banner Builder 
puts your printer through some pretty bizarre me- 
chanical steps. 
Requirements: IBM PC 64K 
Software Publishing Corp., $34.95 

BENCHMARK GRAPHICS 

The Benchmark graphics package is part of an 
integrated system that includes a word processor, 
mailing list utility, financial planner, and so forth. 
But it also stands aione as one of the more sophis- 



116 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ticated business/presentation graphics programs 
around. 

..To.ithe usual presentation charts and graphs, 
Benchmark adds extensive freehand drawing abil- 
ity; area filling; image enlargment and compres- 
sion; such computer-plotted shapes as circles, 
ellipses, and rectangles; and the complete freedom 
to mix text with graphics. One important feature is 
that the IBM color graphics board is optional; the 
program can be run with a black-and-white moni- 
tor, then plotted on a color printer for the final out- 
put. 

The program works with 12 graphics primitives, 
including arcs, ellipses, rectangles, and lines. Se- 
lecting one brings up subroutines to control and 
manipulate it. Some are common to all primitives: 
The numeric pad governs the movement of the 
form or cursor from its home position in the center 
of the screen. "C" and "R" increase the speed of 
movement. And "F1" cancels the command. Other 
controls 'are specific to a one primitive. When 
"ARC" (draw an arc) is entered, for instance, " + " 
and " -" change the arc radius and the Arrow keys 
vary the arc's starting and final angles. 

Freehand drawing uses the numeric pad to se- 
lect points, which are then automatically con- 
nected by the computer. This same simplicity is 
found irfrhany other commands. "MES," for exam- 
ple, creates a background mesh of lines whose 
height and width can be varied incrementally. Line 
thickness can be changed, five fill, patterns se- 
lected, and text entered anywhere on the screen. 
: Two "super-primitive" functions can be called 
into play at any time. One is a Set toggle that dis- 
plays intersecting lines either as a combination of 
elements— a line through a circle will show both 
the line "and the circle — or with one element in the 
foreground, blocking part of the form "behind" it. 
The second super-primitive lets you select a color 
from the graphics primitive menu, then use it in 
drawing whatever other primitives you need. 

When working with these routines, complex im- 
ages are built one on top of another; at any point, 
the form can either be locked together and all the 
components treated as one, or broken down so 
that individual elements can be added, deleted, or 
changed in some way. This function is one of the 
program's most useful features. 

Graphs and charts may be created almost as sim- 
ply, with subroutines called, up from a menu. 
Scales are set, for instance, by entering their mini- 



mum and maximum values. Again, the bars can be 
manipulated with the graphics primitives com- 
mands — moved, labeled, filled with color or pat- 
terns, resized, and so forth. Because new images 
are simply added on top of old until the screen is 
cleared, it is easy to prepare multiple chart images 
or to combine charts with other graphics or text. 

Line charts must be plotted point by point, as if 
using the Dra graphics primitive — positioning the 
cursor at the next point, then telling to program to 
draw a connecting line. The advantage is that the 
control over line thicknesses and other variables 
offered by the interactive graphics: program are 
available here. ..;.■,.:... 

The documentation is quite well written, and is 
organized to take you step-by-step through the 
graphics process at first, then refer to it quickly as 
you become more proficient. , 
Requirements: IBM, NEC, or Victor; PC-DOS or 
MS-DOS 
MetasoftCorp., $599 

BPS BUSINESS GRAPHICS: APPLE II 
BUSINESS GRAPHICS 

When you see ads on television or in magazines 
depicting beautiful, full-color graphs on a display 
monitor or roiling out of a plotter, chances are very 
good that they were created with this program. 
Many consider it to be the finest business graphics 
program available. ■■::■. 

BPS displays dozens of different chart types — 
over 70 are depicted in a brilliantly executed tuto- 
rial manual— in 16 colors, with full control over 
every single variable of the graphic display. They 
can be turned into hardcopy on over 70 models of 
printers and plotters — fewer for the Apple— sup- 
ported by the software. -' ■-■: ;■'■'■ 

Compare the vital statistics with those of other 
business graphics packages: For line charts there 
are four different line thicknesses, solid or dashed, 
connecting nine different point styles. There is no 
limit on the number of variables per chart. Bar 
charts can be set up either horizontally or vertically 
at will, with up to five bars clustered per table, filled 
with seven patterns, in outline or solid. Pies can be 
displayed whole or partial, again with a choice of 
seven fill patterns. The same goes for curve fills 
(any number) and screen fills. Multiple graphs can 
be, plotted on the same axes, and provision is also 
made for scatter charts. Text may be placed hori- 
zontally or vertically anywhere in the display. Axes 



Graphics 



117 



titling is done automatically from menu prompts, 
and the legend box automatically selects appropri- 
ate colors for the display. 

Data handling is just as flexible. The system ac- 
cepts either keyboard entry or files created by 
VisiCalc, SuperCalc, Multiplan, 1-2-3, dBASE \\, 
and other business programs. One unique advan- 
tage is that the BPS package also permits mathe- 
matical computations to massage the data. These 
include standard calculator functions as well as 
smoothing, regression, and curves in which you 
specify constant, line, parabola, logarithmic, or 
sine. 

The documentation and user support live up to 
the program itself. Onscreen help displays are 
available for 23 subjects, and an excellent tutorial/ 
demonstration program on its own disk, along with 
the' tutorial manual, enables you to walk through 
the program's many features even while learning to 
operate it— though the manual itself is so clearly 
organized that you might begin using the program 
immediately. The program is copy protected, but 
there is a backup copy of the master system disk in 
addition to the main system, demonstration, and 
printer/plotter installation disks. 

The price tag is high, of course, for the simple 
home user. But in the business environment, where 
there is money available to pay someone else (in 
this case the BPS programmers) to do some of the 
work for you, this is one of the best choices on the 
market. ■'■■ ■ 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM; Texas Instru- 
ments Professional Computer; Wang Professional 
Computer; Apple II + with 48K RAM, language card 
or 1 6K add-on memory; two disk drives 
Business and Professional Software, IBM and 
Texas Instruments $350; Wang $300; Apple $175 

BUSINESS GRAPHICS PAK 

This new offering from Radio Shack seems both 
useful and welcome — a remarkably versatile pack- 
age. With a minimum of effort, Business Graphics 
Pak will generate a wide variety of line, bar, pie, 
and scatter charts. 

Line charts accommodate three lines with up to 
ten points per line. Bar charts fit up to ten values 
per bar, with bars either groupd or stacked, with 
both positive and negative values. Pie charts and 
exploded pie charts may contain up to 12 slices. 
Scatter charts may be based on three X,Y coordi- 
nate sets, or six data files of 1 00 values each . 



The program is run from a hierarchy of logical 
menus. The main menu leads to submenus for data 
handling, line charts, bar charts, pie charts, scatter 
charts, and a chart text editor. Most of those have 
submenus in turn. 

You can enter data from the keyboard or from 
files created with this package; utilities also make 
it possible to use files from Scripsit, BASIC, FOR- 
TRAN, or VisiCalc. The program will also generate 
files for you based on either arithmetic or geomet- 
ric progressions and values you supply. Up to 100 
values are allowed per data file. 

An added facility will add a constant to your en- 
tries, subtract it, or multiply or divide raw data by it. 
This feature will compute moving averages or cal- 
culate trends using least squares for linear, quad- 
ratic, and exponential trend- types. It will also 
consolidate figures; for . example, summing 
monthly sales for quarterly totals. 

If your printer or plotter allows, a variety of lines 
and fillings are available: solid or dashed line, dot- 
ted line, or no line; up to eight color choices; no 
fill, light, or dark for enclosed areas. With a high- 
resolution printer, vertical, horizontal, and 
checked fills may be used. Drivers are included for 
17 Radio Shack printers and plotters. 

If you wish, the program will set the scales on 
your chart — it does a good job — or you can set 
them yourself. Horizontal axes may be graduated 
in numbers, weeks, months, quarters, or years; ver- 
tical scales are numerical. Charts may be labeled 
automatically at the top or bottom or along the left 
edge. You may set the size of your chart and 
whether it is to have a border. If none of the auto- 
matic options is right, you can insert text anywhere 
on the chart. 

You may display the chart at any time on the 
screen to see how your settings look. With the 
high-resolution graphics option, the display will 
appear almost exactly as it will be printed. : 

The program is sold on a TRS DOS 2.0a single- 
sided disk for the Model II. The drivers and utilities 
are provided on two more disks. Model 12 and 16' 
owners will probably transfer the programs, driv- 
ers, and utilities they need to double-sided TRS 
DOS II disks, a difficult and time-consuming pro- 
cess. 

The manual is very complete: It has a good table 
of contents, a comprehensive index, a good de- 
scription of controls, how to run all functions, sam- 
ple sessions, a getting started section, and 



118 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



appendices that cover error messages and other 
things you may need to know. However, it is a bit 
disorganized, requiring a good deal of page turn- 
ing when you are learning the program. 

Overall, this is an impressive package. Some op- 
erations are painfully slow, but when you consider 
the number of operations required for automatic 
scaling and driving the output devices, it helps 
your patience. In fact, the delays may result from 
the great amount of disk access required — always 
slow on a Model 16. It might well run faster on a 
Model II underTRS DOS 2.0a. 
. Other criticisms are minor, and there are many 
conveniences that have not been mentioned. A 
Model II or 12 equipped with high resolution graph- 
ics, a high resolution printer or color plotter, and 
Business Graphics Pa k would make an outstand- 
ing combination for those who have many charts to 
produce. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Model II, 12, or 16; 64K 
RAM; disk drive; printer or plotter . 
Radio Shack, $249 



BUSINESS GRAPHICS III 

Business Graphics III is a graph generator for 
the Apple III that uses ordinary English commands 
to, create.. line, pie, bar and stacked-bar graphs, 
among others. Any of the graph types can then be 
combined to accomodate a wide range of needs. 
The program requires neither mathematical skill 
nor a calculator; all computations are done inter- 
nally. 

-Typing the command "EDIT" places you in the 
data-entry mode. You can type in numbers of graph 
titles; titles are denoted by quotation marks. Data 
from previously generated graphs can be entered 
as individual points or as a group of points with 
their own corresponding labels. All such data can 
be modified or deleted from memory. Once the 
points have been entered, you type the command 
"DRAW" followed by the appropriate graph type 
and Busin ess Graphics III will generate a graph on 
the screen. Once a graph is drawn, it can be printed 
on a wide variety of printers. Both the data entered 
and the generated graph can be saved to disk. 

Data from other graphs can be appended to 
graphs in memory or extrapolated using the rela- 
tionship between points already present. Business 
Graphics will even inform you of the possible mar- 
gin of error. At any time, you can have an additional 



value added to all points, or you can increase or 
decrease them by a percentage of their value. 

Because the program uses the Pascal operating 
system, it comes with the Pascal runtime package. 
If you don't have a hard-disk system, you may need 
a total of 256K. If you want customized, profes- 
sional-quality graphs, however, it's worth the 
added expense. 

Requirements: Apple 111, 128K RAM, two disk 
drives 
Apple Computer, $250 . 

CADPLAN 

Despite its name, CADplan for the IBM PC with 
320K RAM cannot be the same as CAD programs 
run on mainframe computers. Images are limited to 
two dimensions. The output resolution is only that 
of the color graphics card and display monitor, not 
a high-resolution display. And you neither draw di- 
rectly on the screen nor use a digitizing tablet the 
size of a drawing board; instead the program sup- 
ports a mouse. In every other respect, however, 
CADplan* is a fully professional CAD system offer- 
ing features not even hinted at in most other soft- 
ware for micros. 

What makes it so professional is the number of 
choices it gives you. You define the scale of the 
drawing and grid markings. You determine 
whether lines will be "locked" to grid vertexes for 
precise angulation or left floating free. You decide 
whether to display the grid. You decide on the 
exact thickness of the lines. There is virtually no 
aspect of creating floor plans, engineering dia- 
grams, flow charts, and even business graphics 
that you cannot control through this program. The 
only sacrifice is in the range of colors: Only red, 
yellow, green, and black are available. 

In addition to basic line drawing functions— 
either a "rubber band" effect or a standard line— 
you have a full choice of automatic plotting func- 
tions, including circles, arcs, and rectangles. An 
extensive shape table program lets you define a 
window and save it for later use. The same function 
lets you rotate and move the drawing or zoom in or 
out in 2x increments. All of these functions are 
fully interfaced with the mouse; you get specific 
instructions about which button to push as each 
new menu routine is selected. With many routines 
you also can enter precise coordinates through the 
keyboard rather than visually positioning the 
mouse. 



Graphics 



119 



The program creates drawing on up to 65 over- 
laid planes, which can either be locked together or 
split apart. You thus can create different elements 
of the drawing on different planes and modify only 
specific parts without affecting the rest. The same 
principle holds when moving objects or saving 
them to the shape file: You can move a single ob- 
ject, defined by placing the cursor within a 
bounded area; or you can "gather" objects to- 
gether and move or manipulate them as a group. 

Another major feature — one found on many 
professional GAD systems but unique among mi- 
crocomputer programs— is automatic cost analy- 
sis. By defining the height of a wall and entering a 
basic drywali sheet dimension, you can calculate 
how many sheets will be needed to execute your 
design." If you enter the cost of wall board sheets, it 
wiii even tell you how much the project will cost. 
Similarly, you could define a particular sized circle 
as a conference table, then ask the program to tell 
you how many conference tables you placed in the 
office design. Ail of these features require an op- 
tional database analysis package. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 320K RAM, two disk 
drives, color graphics board 
Personal CAD Systems,. CADplan $1,200; database 
extraction $350 

CHARTPAK-64 

From the start, graphics have been an important 
part of personal computing, not just for drawing 
pretty pictures or playing games, but for visually 
representing information, as well. The reliance on 
graphics — charts and graphs— in business is in- 
creasing, too. Chartpak-64 is an attempt at a low- 
cost business graphics software system for the 
Commodore 64. 

With video screen resolution of 320 by 200 pixels 
in up to 16 colors, the 64 is well-suited to drawing 
charts and graphs, and Chartpak-64 strives to take 
advantage of this capability. In addition, it is de- 
signed to print screen graphics on Commodore's 
1515 or 1525E printers, On Epson printers with 
Graftrax, and on the Star-Micronics Gemini-10 or 
Gemini-15. 

Designing a chart or graph begins with entering 
data that can then be stored on diskette. The values 
along the X and Y axes are specified, as are legends 
or other information to be incorporated into the 
graphics. Chartpak-64 offers several different types 
of charts and graphs: pie charts, horizontal and 



vertical' bar graphs, horizontal and vertical charts, 
conventional X-Y plotting, and comparison plots. 
The results, both printed and displayed on the 
video screen,- are quite impressive. 

Chartpak-64, unfortunately, is not easy to learn, 
nor to operate. Although it was designed by Roy 
Wainwright, who did an admirable job with Ultra- 
basic-64 — an excellent BASIC extension for the 64 
—Chartpak-64 is confusing and overly compli- 
cated. This is undoubtedly the price paid for the 
program's enormous flexibility, but it might be eas- 
ier to draw graphs and charts using either Wain- 
wright's Ultrabasic-64, the more powerful Simons' 
BASIC, or an integrated software package that pro- 
vides for business graphics. ■ ■■ ' 
Requirements: Commodore 64, one disk drive 
Abacus Software, $42.95 :: '^ 

COMBINED ENHANCED GRAPHICS 
SOFTWARE 

This screen dump package allows the Apple II to 
print out graphic images on some 20 popular 
models of printers using virtually any of the inter- 
face cards now available. One of the first such sys- 
tems on the market; it has since been upgraded 
and improved several times since it appeared in 
1979. ■ ■■■■■: ■■■■■'■ 

After following prompts to define the kind of 
printer ! being used, you come to a menu of the 
basic printing program and options. Choices in- 
clude black on white and reverse printing, standard 
(4 by 3) aspect ratio or an enlarged (7 by 5) format, 
and horizontal positioning. A special program fea- 
ture allows a search of the.disk for all binary lan- 
guage files, which automatically includes ail the 
high-resolution images; the catalog is then dis- 
played and the user can step through the choices 
with the Space bar, selecting and executing a print- 
out with the Return key. 

Also available is a ditherizer for the lie that en- 
ables it to capture a frame from a video camera, 
digitize it, then display it as a high-resolution 
image. The processing speed depends on the num- 
ber of grey scale values assigned to the image— 1 
to 64— so that even moving objects can be cap- 
tured by using low contrast. The ditherizer- kit con- 
tains both an interface card for the video camera, 
ditherizing software, and the Combined Enhanced 
Graphics Software screen-dump package. 
Requirements: Apple II, disk drive 
Computer Stations, $34.95 



120 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



COMPUTER (HIGH-RESOLUTION) 
GRAPHICS 

Some of the most loyal TRS-80 afficionados have 
from time to time wished for the higher resolution 
graphics capabilities similar to those of some of its 
competition. The reasons might be for engineering 
or business graphics, or for creating games orani- 
mation, and the TRS-80's normal low-resolution 
(128 by 48) block graphics just do not completely 
satisfy. 

The software/hardware combination reviewed 
here is. Radio Shack's offering for those who have 
such a need — a package that provides 153,600 (640 
by 240) pixels instead of the normal 6,144, 25 times 
as many points. 

We had hoped to review the Model Aversion (26- 
1126, $249.95) but it was not yet available though 
included in the current Radio Shack catalogs. 
From descriptions, the two are identical in func- 
tions and performance, and we cannot tell you why 
the price of the Model 4 package is markedly lower 
than the Model III. 

Both packages provide a board, which includes 
32K additional memory to handle the high-resolu- 
tion graphics display and requires installation, and 
the software which includes a graphics BASIC 
(GBASIC), sample programs, and some machine 
language. utilities. 

;. We had our Model ill kit installed in our Model 4 
at the local Radio Shack computer center for a fee 
of $30. The internal board uses the normal buss 
connection and provides a new one at the end of a 
short cable extending outward from the same 
physical opening for connecting hard disk or other 
peripheral requiring connection to the buss. .... 

USER SET-UP AND INSTALLATION 

The programs, utilities and sample files are dis- 
tributed on a TRS DOS 1.3 diskette with no backup 
limitations. We expect that most users will proba- 
bly immediately do the same thing we did — boot 
the disk (a backup, of course), load BASICG, and 
run some of the sample BASICG programs to see 
what the effects look like — even though the man- 
ual does not suggest this approach. And if you are 
using a backup, it's not a bad approach because 
when you see the rather dazzling effects, a normal 
reaction is, "Gee, that looks great, how do I do 
that?" and to immediately bury one's nose right 
back in the manual to see how it works. 

The sample program's titles include such jewels 



as PecanPie/Gra, ThreeDee/Gra, Clock/ Gra, Line- 
graphlGra, TwoCol3D/Gra, and more similar titles. 
Listings, liberally commented upon for some of the 
titles, are in an appendix in case you want to study 
or modify them; and since they are in BASIC, you 
could of course List any of them to .your printer for 
study. ■■ ■ ■..■■.;.■•:,.■ 

Suffice it to say that set up and installation is no 
problem. 

GBASIC 

The heart of the system for most users will be 
BASICG and so examination of some of its features 
are in order. The manual devotes a major part of its 
effort to lucid explanations of the BASICG com- 
mands and functions. 

The conceptual center. of the system lies in = the 
ability to turn any one of the screen pixels "on" 
(white) or "off "(black). These are addresses in an 
X,Y coordinate system. BASICG builds on this to 
provide. commands that make the creation of. geo- 
metric entities easier to create than using the pro- 
cess of your setting every individual pixel either on 
or off. 

We cannot detail here all of the characteristics of 
the GBASIC commands, so we'll list the commands 
and detail a couple of them to provide an idea of 
the system's operation. 

The commands include; ."■■?.■■•■;. 

Circle— draws a circle, arc, semicircle, etc. . . 

CI r— clears the graphics screen , 

Glocate — sets cursor location and direction for 
putting characters on the graphics screen 
. Get — reads contents of a rectangle on screen 
into an array for future use by Put 

Line — draws a line in specified style and color 
(on/off). Also creates box or rectangle 

Paint — paints an area a specified style 

Preset — sets a pixel on/off 

Print #-3 — 'Writes characters to graphics screen 

Pset — sets pixel on/off 

Screen—selects the graphics or text screen 

View — creates a viewport which becomes the 
current graphics screen ; 

&Poirit — returns the on/off color value of a pixel 

&View — returns the current viewport coordi- 
nates 

Before exploring a couple of the above com- 
mands as examples, let's first define a few exam- 
pies of BASICG operation. 

Two "screens," or modes^— Text and Graphics — 



Graphics 



121 



can act independently. The normal text display will 
operate as it always does; a graphics screen oper- 
ates separately for display of graphics. The Screen 
command is used'to display one or the other, but 
they cannot both be displayed simultaneously, and 
they must be cleared independently. 

Files created under regular BASIC are not di- 
rectly loadable by BASICG and vice versa. If the file 
is saved in ASCII format with the Save "filename/ 
ext," A procedure, the file of either may be loaded 
to the other; however, BASIC will not run programs 
with statements or commands peculiar to BASICG. 
BASICG uses about 6.5K more of user RAM than 
BASIC. 

The Circle command is a good example of the 
"shorthand" provided by the system to create 
graphics, its full statement is: : 

CIRCLE (x.yj.r.c'.start.end.ar 

Where x and y are the integer coordinates of the 
center's location, expressed in pixels; r is the inte- 
ger expression of the radius in pixels; c specifies 
the on/off color (white/black) — c is optional, and if 
omitted defaults to white; start is start point of the 
figure in radians, 0-6.28135 is optional, defaults to 
if omitted; end specifies endpoint, expression 
same as start,, js optional, if omitted defaults to 
6.28315; ar is the aspect ratio of the figure — values 
greater than .5 draw ellipses with major axis on Y- 
axis, less than .5 ellipses with major axis on the X- 
axis; .5 draws circles— optional, defaults to ,5 if 
omitted. 

Additionally, if negative values are used for either 
start or end or both, the corresponding radius is 
also drawn, allowing .the construction of "pie" 
slices. 

Thus in a single line statement is the ability to 
draw a wide variety of circles, ellipses, the arcs of 
both, pie slice and other variants.' , 

" The Line command is equally versatile. Its form 
.is: 

LINE (x1 ,y1) - (x2 -y2),c,B or BF, style 

Again, the dimensions are expressed in pixels, 
the first x.y values providing the origin, the second 
the endpoint. The c specifies color, the B will draw 
a box based on the specified line as the diagonal, 
and BF will shade the box. Style allows choice of 
solid line or a variety of dotted or dashed lines. 



The Paint command allows "painting" specified 
enclosed areas with a nearly infinite variety of pat- 
terns that can be created with user defined string 
variables. Border and background color may also 
be specified. 

While you cannot, in the conventional sense, 
type to the graphics screen, the Print #-3 com- 
mand provides for writing characters to the graph- 
ics screen, and the Glocate command is used to set 
the start point and direction of print — it is not lim- 
ited to the conventional horizontal left-to-right. 

Other commands provide the ability to: turn any 
pixel on/off; determine the on/off condition of any 
pixel; read the contents of a rectangle on the 
screen into an array for later display at a user spec- 
ified location; create a "viewport" on the screen 
that becomes the current graphics screen; and de- 
termine the coordinates of the current viewport. 



GRAPHICS UTILITIES 

The program includes a set of assembler lan- 
guage programs that allow loading and saving dis- 
plays to/from disk, clearing graphics memory, and 
printing graphics displays to the compatible print- 
ers. The utilities may be executed from DOS Ready, 
or may be called from BASICG by use of the CMD 
"I" function, for example.a BASIC program may 
contain the line: ■;.■'■- 

100 CMD T\ "GLOAD DISPLAY 1/GRA" 

It is also possible to use the utilities with FOR- 
TRAN, and a chapter of the manual is. devoted to 
use of the programs with FORTRAN. 

The source code for all of the utilities are com 
tained in the user's manual. 

We were not able to test the graphics printing 
capability. Three different print commands are pro- 
vided for use as appropriate with Radio Shack dot 
matrix printers including the LPVII, LPVIII, 
DMP100, DMP200, DMP400, and DMP500. We had 
none of these available and were left in doubt by 
the manual's wording as to whether any of them 
would produce an exact pixel-by-pixel reproduc- 
tion of the graphics. It would seem likely that the 
later Model 4 version may include print drivers for 
the current Radio Shack DMP-series printers. If 
precise printouts are important to you, we would 
suggest checking this point in detail before pur- 
chase. 



122 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



DOCUMENTATION 

The Computer Graphics package is not an in- 
stant creator of pie, iine and bar charts for the busi- 
nessman who is interested only in quick results 
and not his computer or in programming graphics, 
and the documentation reflects this orientation. 

Computer Graphics is for the person who under- 
stands his computer, is familiar with BASIC pro- 
gramming and possibly Assembler. For him, the 
manual provides complete descriptions of all com- 
mands and functions, frequently illustrating them 
with sample programs. 

The manual also helps the novice programmer. 
For example, in addition to descriptions of how 
binary code sequences may be used to define hex 
strings that are used for lines, and others that may 
be used for "tiling" used to paint areas of graphics, 
the manual also provides many frequently used 
samples of both and conversion tables to assist the 
programmer. GBASIC program listings and source 
code listings also aid easy understanding of the 
programs. 

The manual is, in short, comprehensive— hold- 
ing nothing back— easy to read, well organized, 
and has a good index. 

EVALUATION 

Computer Graphics is an excellent package for 
the experienced or semi-experienced programmer 
who wants to combine his imagination and creativ- 
ity with the versatile tools provided by Computer 
Graphics to produce high resolution graphics on 
the TRS-80 computers. 

The commands provided in Computer Graphics 
are versatile, and when combined with the normal 
powers of BASIC— for/next loops, conditionals, 
and math functions — provide a capability to create 
effects limited only by the programmer's interests, 
imagination, and capabilities. 

We considered the package not unreasonably 
priced at $369.95, and if. the Model' 4 version pro- 
vides, as advertised, the same capabilities for 
$249.95, it will have to be counted as a bargain. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model III, one disk drive 
Radio Shack, $369.95 

DATA*EASY BAR GRAPH GENERATOR 

For many business applications, all you need for 
illustration is a bar graph. This program will create 
it for you with amazing ease, it uses the standard 
graphics capability of the ASCII character set, al- 



ready programmed into most computers, rather 
than the output of a color graphics board. 

Compared with some of the more sophisticated 
business and presentation graphics programs, the 
number of choices here are somewhat limited. 
Times displayed on the X-axis, for instance, can be 
in years, months, weeks, or days, with up to 15 
periods per graph — but that's it Nonetheless, the 
program does allow three graph plots to be dis- 
played together as clustered, stacked, of overlaid 
bars. And its menu routines for both entering data 
and editing chart parameters are quite easy to fol- 
low. 

The manual is well written. However, because 
this is part of a series of business and accounting 
programs, the first two-thirds of it is devoted to 
genera! program information and setup. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive 
Data Consulting Group, $35 



DELTA DRAWING 

If the text and illustrations in this program's man- 
ual were not aimed at five- and six-year-olds, the 
program might well be a full-fledged adult graphics 
program. Unfortunately for adults, the language of 
the manual is obviously meant for kids and is rather 
offputting. And unfortunately for small children, 
the program is so complex and requires so many 
steps that it may indeed be more suited to mom 
and dad. 

The program creates drawings by moving the 
cursor one pixel at a time using appropriately la- 
beled keys; D = down, R = right, and so forth. 
Another set of keys enables the creation of half- 
pixel steps so that smooth curved lines can be con- 
structed. Colors are easily selected and can be 
changed in an existing drawing. Up to four differ- 
ent line colors, background colors, and filled-area 
colors can be used in each drawing. 

Advanced drawing modes offer features such as 
"Kaleidoscope," in which every move of the cursor 
is mirrored four times; text insertion; expansion 
and compression along both axes; the ability to 
reposition the drawing on the screen; a random 
line generator; and so forth. A form of animation 
can be achieved by controlling the speed at which 
images are loaded. 

Requirements: Apple 11+ or lie or IBM PCjr., 64K 
RAM, disk drive; Atari or Commodore 64, 48K RAM, 
tape ' 



Graphics 



123 



Spinnaker Software, Apple or IBM $29.95; Atari or 
Commodore $39.95 • 

DEMOGRAFIX 

This program allows you to set up sequences of 
graphics created with other programs on the Apple 
II. These may be displayed under control from the 
keyboard, under remote control from a hand-held 
controller supplied by the company, much like the 
remote control of a slide projector that can go for- 
wards, backwards, or pause; or unattended, with a 
preset speed. ... "' 

Its best feature is the enormous range of transi- 
tion styles it gives you. You can flash between im- 
ages on the two high-resolution screens for an 
animationlike effect; roll up and down or left and 
right; crawl from one image to the next; build ghost 
images in which every other line is removed "and 
the line above it repeated; dissolve from One image 
to the next; create push-ons; or use "Snap," which 
holds the incoming image in a buffer memory until 
it is completely assembled, then bursts it onto the 
screen. All except flash also let you set the rate at 
Which the transition will occur, from extremely 
slow special effects to the fastest recall tirne^- 
about one second.' This, of course, is much faster 
than the conventional Apple recall time. 

Information about the control sequence is 
loaded into control files, edited through the main 
menu of the program In response to a series of 
prompts. Since you have the opportunity to select 
the type of transition and the load time for each 
new image, you can vary the effect and speed from 
image to image and change the control sequence 
at any point. Graphics are loaded from the second 
disk drive, rather than the primary drive, which con- 
tains the program.^ 

You can print out the control sequences for easy 
reference, or you can print out the images them-, 
selves. The program works with an Epson MX-80 or 
MX-100 with graphics option or with other printers 
through ascreen dump program. 

Demografix's manual is clearly written — simple, 
straightforward, and easy to follow. 
Requirements: Apple II + or lie, 48K RAM, two disk 
drives 
Business Logic, $129.95 (includes hand controller) 

DICOMEDIA1 AND 2 

These two integrated hardware/software pack- 
ages — Micro 1 for. the Apple II H- or lie, Micro 2 for 



the IBM PC — are the scaled-down versions of a 
product line used extensively in CAD/CAM and 
other industrial and professional .applications of 
computer graphics. This version uses your com- 
puter, a Dicomed graphics tablet, and a phone 
modem hooked to a Dicomed D148"S" Color 
Image Recorder to translate your images into 
slides, transparencies, or prints. It is every bit as 
sophisticated as its big brother CAD/CAM system. 

The software is essentially a business/presenta- 
tion graphics package, with several distinguishing 
features. For one thing, 64' colors can be selected 
and displayed in a single image, including primary 
shades, pastels, and gray tones; this is far more 
than the 16 background and 6 line colors choices 
available with most graphics designed for the PC. 
For another, text entry is quite flexible, offering a 
choice of seven sizes, horizontal or vertical direc- 
tion, and different drop shadow sizes (which can 
be used to create a zoomlike effect as the drop 
shadows grow larger). You can also use a rectan- 
gle plotter to draw rectangles anywhere on the. 
screen for the creation of organization diagrams 
and other charts, /..'.'•'- 

As with most business graphics packages, the 
actual creation of the charts is completely menu 
driven and almost completely automatic. Bar 
charts can hold up to 20 bars per image, grouped 
or singly. With pie charts, you can have 1 or 2 per 
page, with up to 12 slices in a single pie, 8 each in 
a two-pie display. In the line-chart mode, you can 
generate 3 separate lines per chart with up to 24 
points per line. ''■■ 

The Micro software also forms the basis of a 
graphics design station system from Dicomed— 
the Presenter— which adds a 64K RAM computer 
with twin disk drives, a 12-inch black-and-white 
monitor and a 13-inch color monitor to the Dico- 
media package described above. You do all the de- 
sign work on the black-and-white monitor, then 
view it onthe color monitor at any point during the 
creation process. The color monitor retains the 
image while you go back to the monochrome, en- 
abling you to compare different stages of the com- 
position. 

Requirements: Micro 1, Apple II + with 48K RAM, 
He with 64K RAM, two single-sided disk drives, 80- 
column printer card, NTSC-compatible monitor; 
Micro 2, IBM PC, 64K RAM, two double-sided disk 
drives, color graphics board, NTSC-compatible 
monitor (IBM monitor does not work), PC-DOS 1.1 



124 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



Dicomed, Micro 1 $6,000; Micro 2 $6,500; Presen- 
ter $17,950 . 

DOODLE 

Doodle describes itself as a color sketch pad for 
the Commodore 64. With it you can draw and color 
on : the screen, using a joystick or trackball and a 
set of programmed drafting tools. ' ..' '■ !'■.= 

Functions are chosen from a menu. Sketch is the 
basic drawing function. Lines, boxes, and circles 
are the drafting tools. Zoom enlarges the screen 
pixels so that detail can be added. Two especially 
powerful functions are copy and stamp. The first 
memorizes any image and copies it to another 
place on the screen. The copy can be enlarged or 
reduced, and rotated in increments of 90 degrees. 
Stamp is used to create up to nine different "rub- 
ber stamps," which also can be used to duplicate 
portions of screen images. 

Two other functions, letter and color, allow you 
to. enter text — horizontally, vertically, or upside 
down, in several different sizes — and finally to 
color the picture. Since Doodle uses the highest 
screen-resolution mode — 320 by 200 pixels— the 
original drawing is created in two colors, black 
against a white background. The process of color- 
ing can be compared to using crayons on the fin- 
ished product— it is an imperfect approach to the 
problem, at best. Screens prepared with Doodle 
can be printed in black and white on Commodore, 
C. Itoh, NEC, Epson, Star Micronics, and Okidata 
dot-matrix printers equipped with the necessary 
graphics options. 

While Doodle is more difficult to use than the 
painting program included with the KoalaPad, the 
ability to enlarge, reduce, and rotate objects is a 
nice addition. It is difficult, though possible, to 
draw free-hand using the joystick. Overall, a track- 
ball is quicker, easier, and more natural. Generally, 
the program has some good features we have not 
seen in other graphics programs. The only regret is 
that there isn't a version that works with the 
KoalaPad. 

Requirements: Commodore 64, one disk drive 
City Software, $39.95 

DR GRAPH 

This. is just what you would expect from the peo- 
ple who created the CP/M operating system. DR 
Graph is a completely menu-driven, automatic 
chart creator. It can produce bar, line, pie, scatter, 



clustered bar, stick, stacked bar, or text-only 
charts. The program makes virtually every plotting 
decision, yet allows you to take manual control 
when you want to change the automatics. '-.-, r - 

Although designed to operate in monochrome 
on the IBM PC, DR Graph will present full-color 
previews when used with a color graphics board. 
On CP/M-based computers, you must wait until the 
image is run on a plotter before seeing it in color.. 

Among its many features is a nicely organized 
process that allows you to select between eight 
color and eight fill patterns. This makes it easy to 
add color and pattern to any element of a chart On 
bar charts, it gives excellent control over such fea- 
tures as bar width, stacking and clustering, and 
horizontal or vertical composition. Pie charts are 
divisible into 16 parts. Lines may be solid or 
dashed, axis lines thick or thin. Bar and line charts 
can be combined in the same display, using the 
same axis, While four different graphs .can be pre- 
sented on the same page of hardcopy. Labels, 
headlines and subheads, and legends may be 
placed anywhere within the chart, =■■ 

Data may be entered through a well-designed 
menu prompt system. Or you may use SuperCalc 
SDIj VisiCalc DIF, or Multipian SYLK files as input. 

Documentation is well written; it can be followed 
by the novice but is not offensive to the experi- 
enced operator. Illustrations are clear. And, unlike 
the manuals supplied with many other programs of 
this kind, the text is typeset rather than typewritten 
— much easier on the eyes. . ■'■'■■',■ 

One aspect of the program that may prove con- 
fusing is the menu structure. The process begins 
simply, but it is not until the file has been saved 
that you are given a choice of annotating the text 
or moving the legend. The intricacies of the com- 
mand menus are shown quite nicely in the manual, 
but it's a good idea to memorize the basic structure 
as soon as possible. 

Requirements: CP/M-80; IBM PC, CP/M-86 or PC- 
DOS 
Digital Research, $295 -, 



ED-A-SKETCH 

Most terminals are already equipped to display 
the standard ASCII graphics set, a series of lines 
and angles entered through the terminal's graphics 
mode, as well as such other graphics functions as 
half-intensity video, underlining, and so forth. All 



Graphics 



125 



this is achieved without special graphics adaptors, 
but is often hard for the nonprogrammer to use. 
Ed-A-Sketch lets you access these various terminal 
graphics functions, use them to create images on 
the screen, and save them to disk where they can 
be incorporated as graphics : routines, in regular 
BASIC programs. . 

In addition to creating images one graphics sym- 
bol at a time, the program offers block operations, 
much as a word processor handles text. Thus, rec- 
tangles of various sizes can be defined on the 
screen, then filled with different characters or sym- 
bols, moved about, and so forth. During most op- 
erations, the status line(s) at the: , bottom of the 
screen can be used to display an index of the ASCI! 
graphics characters and their corresponding letter 
keystrokes. =-■ ■ •-:'■••:'• 

. The program comes with a caveat that it is not 
designed to provide screen dumps without added 
software; without: a screen dump utility, the 'graph- 
ics symbols will be printed as their corresponding 
letter. Despite this smail limitation, Ed-A-Sketch is 
an exciting tool for those whose computers do not 
support other kinds of graphics program. 
Requirements: Heath/Zenith computers, HDOS; 
Osborne 1; two disk drives to initialize system, 
which then runs with a single drive ..■:'./; 
The Software Toolworks, $29.95 



ENERGRAPHICS 

There is something almost unbelievable about 
this IBM PC program. Using only 64K of RAM, it 
promises not only color business graphics, but 
two-dimensional interactive drawing and painting, 
a symbol generator with 140 symbols arranged in 
.30 templates, and an interactive 3D drawing pro- 
gram with hidden line removal as well! Amazingly, 
the promises turn out to be true. Enertronics deliv- 
ers the whole thing for only $250; $350 with a plot- 
ter interface option, though the main program 
supports most dot matrix printers with graphics ca- 
pability. .■'■■■■■, 

Beginning with the best things first, the 3D editor 
is nothing short of spectacular, Using either a bit 
pad or the keyboard, you can create shapes com- 
posed of up to 20,000 data points — the capacity of 
an IBM diskette and far more than is needed for 
most applications. To the right of the display 
screen appear Function key definitions, plus a 
scaled-down version of the object. In the main part 



of the display, the object is shown either as wire- 
frame or with hidden lines removed. The object can 
be viewed from any angle and also scaled up or 
down. Also, since the object can be created on sev- 
eral interconnected planes, .you can. choose to ma- 
nipulate one of the planes independently to 
replicate its information, rotate or mirror it, and so 
forth. This Is used when, for instance/one element 
of the 3D object is repeated throughout its design 
while the other elements remain unchanged. 
: Other capabilities include the creation of surface 
drawings, coupled with linear, polynomial, or mul- 
tivariate regression analysis. Like 3D objects, the 
surface plots can be viewed from any angle. 

Two dimensional freehand drawing can use a bit 
pad or the keybard. Lines can be of virtually any 
thickness, and the drawing can be rotated, mir- 
rored, or repeated. This part of the program works 
with the shape table/symbol editor to create forms 
in a 24 by 24 dot grid. Both the blown-up dot pat- 
tern and an image in real size are displayed, to- 
gether with a menu for adding and removing dots 
and storing the form in the shape table. The pro- 
gram also comes with several useful sets of prede- 
fined symbols, especially those. used for electrical 
design, both standard and digital. For mechanical 
design the program can add dimension measure- 
ments to the drawing, plusa legend box, which you 
just fill in with the appropriate specs. 

The business graphics facilities offer all the stan- 
dard graph types— line, bar, and pie, with exploded 
slices — in a menu-driven format, the program ac- 
cepts either keyboard input or DIF files. Best of all, 
the charts can be manipulated by both the 2D and 
3D editors, -enabling fanciful presentations of 3D 
stacked and clustered bars and similar images. The 
program will automatically sequence through se- 
lected displays, giving a kind of electronic slide 
show. 

In all of this,. there are bound to be some pitfalls. 
The two most apparent are the limited choice of 
colors text-handling capabilities — unless you. cre- 
ate your own fonts and store them in the shape 
tables. But given the overall power of the program, 
fine documentation, ease of use, and, perhaps best 
of all, its very low price, EnerGraphics seems des- 
tined for the best-seller list. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, two double-den- 
sity disk drives, color graphics board 
Enertronics, $250; $350 with plotter interface; dem- 
onstration disk available for $15 



126 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ENHANCED BUSINESS GRAPHICS; 
STROBEVIEW 

With dozens of business/presentation graphics 
programs on the market, how do you decide which 
is best for you? It's difficult at best, and made even 
more complex by the entry of excellent programs 
such as this onto the market. Not designed for on- 
screen displays, it is used to create line, pie, and 
bar graphs on either single- or multiple-pen Strobe 
plotters. 

EBG's graphics are awesome. To begin with, up 
to four graphs of any type can be displayed on a 
page, in either horizontal. or vertical layout. Line 
graphs can use linear X and Y axes or linear X and 
logarithmic Y, with seven different types of line and 
nine point markers. Pie charts come with up to 15 
slices and 5 different hatch patterns. Bars can be 
stacked or clustered, with seven shading patterns, 
including solid and outline. ; 

Two special features make this an outstanding 
program. One is excellent text handling, both- for 
legends and for axes and chart labels. Another is 
the large number of data points that fit intoeach 
chart. With line charts, for example, up to 8 lines 
can be drawn per graph, with either 120 or 255 data 
points, depending on your computer's memory. 
Bar charts hold up to 48 bars side by side or 
stacked, or up to 24 sets of clustered bars, six 
per set. Data is stored in DIF files on a separate 
disk, allowing simple conversion of one graph 
type to another using the same data. And the pro- 
gram can also read and plot data created with a. 
spreadsheet. 

Supplementing EBG is Strobeview, a set of pro-' 
grams that manipulate shape and text for more in- 
teresting plotter output. There are three programs 
in the package. Viewgraf gives you a choice of 
three type styles— regular, bold, and offset— in 
sizes from .05 to .50 inches, which can be either 
centered, indented, or justified. Shape gives you a 
choice of such basic shapes as a pointing finger, 
bullets, circles, rectangles, and diamonds. These 
can then be used with limited amounts of text 
either inside the shape or alongside it — ideal for 
flowcharts and similar diagrams. Newtyper is used 
when more extensive text files are to be presented. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , ile, or III; IBM PC; Kay- 
pro, Osborne, Compaq, or Columbia; two disk 
drives 

Strobe-Enhanced Business Graphics $195; Strob- 
eview $75 



ESPAINTER 

This program proves that with a little imagination 
and a lot of excellent forethought, software for 
basic interactive painting and drawing need not be 
any more complicated than using a brush and 
paint. ES Painter is simple enough to be used by a 
child, and yet it doesn't make you feel like a child 
to use it. : "■■ 

Part of the simplicity comes from using a joystick 
to control the brush (cursor) movement, eliminat- 
ing the cursor control keys used in so many other 
programs. One button on the joystick turns the 
brush on and off, the other is not used at all. The 
rest of the program is accessed through the Func- 
tion keys. ■ ":■■■'■' ■ ■■■■■'■'■ ■■ 

Immediately after the: program loads, you .are 
given a choice of 16 background colors— you sim- 
ply type in the number corresponding to the color 
palette display. The same choice is made for the 
brush color, selecting one of the two IBM color 
palettes. After this, either the background color or 
one .'of the brush colors can be used simply by 
pressing one of the Function keys. To change the 
drawing board color or the brush palette while 
painting, another Function key recalls the color se- 
lection menu. ' - : /;-'-■'■■ 

Another Function key fills an area with a selected 
color. Still another saves drawings onto the dis- 
kette. One calls stored drawings back. And F10 
erases the displayed drawing without saving it 
That's all there is to.it— unless you have a second 
disk drive and can view or alter nine sample images 
supplied on a second disk. 

This isn't a program that will allow you to create 
3D images, or automatically plot presentation 
graphics. Nor does it offer some of the more so- 
phisticated drawing and painting modes; cut-and- 
paste, for example. But if all you want to do is ex- 
periment with graphics or give a child some crea- 
tive freedom, there's probably no better program 
on the market. ' v . : 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive, color 
graphics board, self-centering joystick 
E&S Software Services, $45 ■ . 

FONT GENERATOR II 

Font Generator II is a menu driven, Business- 
BASIC program that lets you customize preexisting 
character sets supplied with the Apple III or create 
nonstandard characters. The program can hold up 
to 16 character sets in memory, and it reserves 



Graphics 



127 



space for a working font, which may consist of seg- 
ments of existing character sets or newly created 
ones. 

From the menu, you can scan the directory of 
any drive for valid font files, load a file into any of 
the 16 available slots, and/or transfer sections to 
the working set. Any of the fonts may be displayed 
on screen. You create new characters on an on- 
screen grid, which makes it easy to orient and alter 
individual character segments. When you've fin- 
ished designing, the new character is shown in 
both normal and inverse video, black letters on a 
bright background, for approval. Newly created 
font files are stored in text format; some programs, 
however, may not recognize these as valid fonts. 

Font Generator II is not fast: No Business-BASiC 
program that can perform complex matrix manipu- 
lation and store and retrieve character sets could 
be. And execution is further slowed by the pro- 
gram's redundant screen handling, especially if 
you should enter an incorrect response to a menu 
prompt. Even so, Font Generator II will bring your 
printouts to life. 

Requirements: Apple III, 128K RAM, disk drive 
Apollo Software, $40 .:. 

4-POINT GRAPHICS ■■'■".'. 

This relatively recent software package for the 
IBM PC is an excellent, innovative interactive draw- 
ing and painting program. It offers high-resoiution 
images on both graphics pages, which can be lay- 
ered on top of each other. The program takes its 
name from the four-point cursor used to define 
areas on the screen which are to be filled with 
color, textured, enlarged or reduced horizontally 
and vertically, saved for use as elements of another 
image, mirrored or flipped, and so forth. 

Actually the four-point cursor is only one of four 
main modes of cursor movement One-point is a 
basic line-drawing program in which a cursor is 
moved through keyboard controls. The two-point 
program produces the "rubber band" effect. The 
three-point program is used in the construction of 
circles, ellipses, and curves. Background, drawing 
line, and filled-area colors are selected with the 
Function keys. 

A unique animation mode can record each step 
of the user's creation and play them back at varia- 
ble speeds, even removing the cursor from the 
image. The cursor can also be turned off at any 
point to permit photography of the screen. Another 



helpful function is a preview mode in which an 
image or parts of an image can be viewed for two 
seconds, long enough to decide whether they 
should be saved. Text mode allows the entry of 36- 
character wide text in any color, with full text-edit- 
ing functions. 

The accompanying manual is clear and concise 
and can be followed through even the most com- 
plex procedures with ease. A reference card to pro- 
gram controls and capabilities supplements it. Also 
of value is a demonstration program which prom- 
ises to demonstrate the system completely within 
five minutes; it does. The 16-color images can be 
printed out on both the Epson and Sweet-P plotters 
using new software which is supplied with 4-Point. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, color graphics 
board ■ ■; 

International MicrocomputerSoftware, $225 

FRAME-UP 

Turn your Apple into a slide projector! Frame-Up 
is a fast utility program that allows you to produce 
professional quality "slide" presentations mixing 
color graphics and text frames. Easy to use, it loads 
high-resolution pictures from disk to the screen in 
2.5 seconds; text and low-resolution frames. load 
even faster.. ' . . 

Presentations may be controlled by the keyboard 
or by paddles or joysticks, or the show can run 
unattended, switching frames every 1 to 99 sec- 
onds. When operated manually, frames are ad- 
vanced or reversed simply by using the left and 
right Arrow keys, or the paddle buttons. An editor 
function makes it easy to change order and timing 
of each frame. 

Text frames may be created from within the pro- 
gram, but both high-resolution and low-resolution 
graphic pictures must be produced by some other 
program and transferred to a Frame-Up data disk. 
Up to 17 high-resolution or 136 low-resolution or 
text frames can be stored on each disk. Two disk 
drives can be used to run an unattended show of 
twice that many frames, or you may link disks to- 
gether to create an uninterrupted show of any 
length. 

Presentations can be made to run on any Apple 
without the Frame-Up program by placing a "Dis- 
play Module" on the initialized data disk. You are 
allowed to produce, copy, and distribute these 
"shows" at will, a nice feature. 
. A Print command used in conjunction with an 



128 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



appropriate graphics .printer and interface pro- 
duces hard copies of any frame. 

Other features include one-key commands, a bi- 
directional scrolling catalog, on-screen menus, a 
handy keyboard reference chart, a complete user's 
manual, and a wall chart of Peeks and Pokes. It is 
supplied on a single unprotected and customizable 
diskette. It is an excellent value. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + or lie, 48K RAM, disk 
drive ■■ ■ ■:.'■■■ ■-•-■.;. : ' 

Beagle Brothers, $29.50 ■■■ 

GRAFMATIC 

While many graphics programs produce output 
designed to be incorporated within BASIC lan- 
guage programs, Grafmatic works with FORTRAN 
and Pascal to achieve sophistication not possible 
with BASIC. This includes complete 2- and 3- 
dimensional drawing plus a set of algorithms that 
remove hidden surfaces in 3D modeling. 1 Truly 
solid-looking objects can be formed. " : 

Grafmatic is actually a collection of 4 separate 
programs, loaded from a single disk. Part I consists 
of basic utility programs allowing FORTRAN pro- 
gramming of operations such as setting fore- 
ground, background, and line colors; drawing and 
painting modes; text entry; screen size and propor- 
tions; cursor position; and so forth. Every pixel on 
the screen can be set individually, with colors alter- 
nating from one to the next Part II is used for'inter- 
active 2D drawing. Objects formed with the Line 
program in Part I can be filled, moved, grouped 
together, rotated, and inverted by a simple set of 
FORTRAN programming commands. A graphics 
cursor that appears as a box in the screen display 
is useful. For those anxious to draw graphs of var- 
ious types, Part III of the program contains a 2D 
plotter." ' •■:"■'■■■'. 

It is in Part IV, however, that the 3D fun begins. 
Again in FORTRAN, the user programs Grafmatic 
to draw the 3D object anywhere on the screen. By 
manipulating the X, Y, and Z coordinates, the ob- 
ject can be rotated or viewed from any angle, 
moved from one point to another, and displayed so 
that the panels forming the object's surface appear 
as solid blocks. 

This is a highly innovative program for the seri- 
ous computer graphics programmer. Don't expect 
to create 3D images instantly. You must write and 
compile a FORTRAN program before an image wiij 
appear. Burdened with a program manual clearly 



, meant for programmers, the 2D and 3D programs 
in Grafmatic take time to grow into. It is worth the 
effort. 

Requirements: IBM PC, Microsoft FORTRAN (1.0, 
3.1 ) or Pascal or SuperSoft FORTRAN 
Microcompatibles, $95 =■■ 

THE GRAPHIC SOLUTION 

When it comes to animation programs for micro- 
computers, there are not many choices. Animation 
is a fairly complex task requiring both large mem- 
ory — each stage of the movement sequence must 
be created as a separate "frame ,, ~and rapid re- 
call, so that the frames can be displayed so rapidly 
that the brain perceives them as continuous mo- 
tion rather than discrete parts. For the kind of com- 
puter animation you see on television or at the 
movies, you'll still have to invest in a larger com- 
puter system than Applei Yet Accent has managed 
to create an animation program that should keep 
you excited for quite some time. 

The Graphic Solution starts out as a shape table 
creation program. You work in Apple low-resolu- 
tion to sketch out the shape cursor movement, 
then manipulate it by stretching, shrinking, mirror- 
ing, and moving it around the screen. Then in high-. 
resolution mode, you define a window around the 
shape and store it in the shape table for later use in 
the animation sequence. • "'* : 

Building animated movies with this program is a 
little like working with the flip books we made as 
children— drawing a stick figure on the edgesof 
the page whose arms and legs moved a little from 
frame to frame. In The Graphic Solution, each of 
the little figures is stored in the shape table, and it 
is up to the projector section of the program to 
access and display them. 

Requirements: Apple II, 48K RAM, DOS 3.3, disk 
drive ■ ■ 

Accent Software, $149.95 : - 

GRAPHICAL ANALYSIS II 

This is a specialized line-chart plotter designed 
for physics and math students. It : presents sets of 
experimental data. Fully 200 X/Y data points can be 
entered. These are rounded off before being dis- 
played, but you set the number of digits to be con- 
sidered valid. Further, various operations, such as 
squaring, can be performed before the data points 
are displayed, in a variety of tic mark patterns. 

Display of the connecting line between points is 



Graphics 



129 



optional. The points can be numbered, a grid dis- 
played, the scale divisions set according to your 
choice, and the slope, intercept, and coefficient of 
correlation can be displayed at the top of the chart. 
, It. is also possible to display two different sets of 
data on the same graph. 

An integral printer support program allows hard- 
copy on any standard 80-coiumn printer. 
Requirements: Apple II + or lie, 48K RAM, Apple- 
soft BASIC, DOS 3.3 ■ 
Vernier Software, $24,952 

GRAPHICMASTER 

Graphicmaster is a collection of five graphics 
utility and editing programs that will enable you to 
create virtually any image— animated or still—that 
you can Imagine. Thjs Isn't an interactive drawing 
program nor a menu-driven business graphics 
package; you have to program the graphics your- 
self. But by using Applesoft BASIC /and the 
GR&MPS language— one of the five programs here 
—you can program just about anything. 

The five programs include Fontcaster, which cre- 
ates and edits characters and shapes, up to 24 by 
24 pixels, in the high-resolution mode. Upper- and 
lowercase letters; may be included in the same set. 
This is one of the best shape table programs 
around, and worth the price of admission alone for 
both its ease of operation and flexibility of control. 

Other programs in the group include Bitmap Wiz- 
ard, which lets you capture high-resolution images 
to disk— including images which have been. cre- 
ated using a graphics tablet or mouse, or digitizing 
camera. Once the basic image has been captured, 
it can be manipulated or moved, then re-stored in a 
different position in the shape table. This module 
also contains a paint program, allowing the cap- 
tured images to be further enhanced. Images may 
be recalled from the table as a series of high-reso- 
lution frames, creating a sort of animation. 

Patternmaster is a standalone module, allowing 
you to create an enormous variety of colorful ab- 
stract screen patterns. These may be integrated 
into other programs. 

The most impressive of the five programs, how- 
ever, is the GR&MPS graphics language. This al- 
lows you both to create graphics and to access 
stored high-resolution images using a simple 
BASIC runtime program, it works with the Apple's 
"ampersand vector" capability; commands in an 
Applesoft BASIC program that are preceeded by 



ampersands are executed in machine language— 
extremely rapidly. You can access files stored by 
the Bitmap or Fontcaster program, change colors 
of any graphic element, view the presentation' in 
any of seven different font styles, instantly reset 
values in the BASIC command file, switch back and 
forth between the two high-resolution screens, and 
perform many other manipulations. Once the ma- 
chine language command has been executed, the 
program switches back again to the BASIC format 
for further instructions. '.■'.- 
Requirements: Apple II, 48KRAM, disk drive 
Tid Bit Software, $79.95 ... 

GRAPHICS DEPARTMENT 

Graphics Department is an integrated graphics 
package combining four separate programs that 
allow the production of complex high-resolution 
pictures suitable for printing or turning into slides. 
: A. Chart Generator produces bar, line, scatter, 
and pie charts, in color, from both direct data input 
and VisiCalc DIF 'files. Data entry is very fast. A 
chart can be designed and printed in less than ten 
minutes. Each graph can have up to 99 data points, 
and you may combine or "overlay" several charts 
(each in a different color) into one. ■ , ; . 

A Trend Analysis option provides mean value, 
standard deviation, and a least-squares linear 
regression trend line that can be added to any scat- 
ter, line, or bar chart. 

The Lettering Kit lets you dress up your pictures 
with additional titles. Thirty different fonts from Old 
English to Bold Modern are included, in five sizes. 
Lettering may be inserted anywhere on the screen. 

A Graphics Tool module allows creation of a va- 
riety of pictures using lines, rectangles, ellipses, 
and shapes derived from shape tables. You may 
edit and combine charts, create pictures from 
scratch, cut and paste, overlay, merge, flip, shrink, 
invert, change colors, and add patterns. Over .100 
different shades are available. 

A Slide Projector function permits the produc- 
tion of professional quality presentations by using 
your graphics pictures in a "slide show." Slides 
can :be selected manually or displayed automati- 
cally as fast as one every 1.5 seconds or as slowly 
as one in 9999 seconds, roughly two hours and 45 
minutes. 

Pictures can be printed from within the program 
using either a Silentype printer or a Grappler type 
interface and another dot matrix printer.: Pictures 



730 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



are saved as standard binary files and therefore 
may be printed on any printer or plotter that can 
access such files. 

The package is supplied on three copyable disks 
and comes with a well-written and thorough 134- 
page manual, along with many sample "slides." 
Requirements: Apple il with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
'or lie, 48K RAM, disk-drive 
Sensible Software, $124.95 = 

GRAPHICS ENHANCED BASIC 

This is a programming language designed to 
work with ordinary BASIC programs, it offers con- 
trol of dot-matrix graphics printers from Epson, 
C.lton, NEC, and Gemini. Using a set of commands 
including Limit (which sets the size of the graphics 
page to be printed), Draw, Plot, Putdot, and so 
forth, it allows you to address some 500,000 dots, 
individually or In groups, using about 8K of mem- 
ory. The manual provides programs for creating 
spirals, a sine wave, a circle, and other shapes, but 
more advanced programmers can create their own 
programs. The set of commands is simple and fully 
explained in the manual. ••••■:■ 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model I or Hi, 48K RAM, 
disk drive 
WileSoft, $69.95 -'< 

THE GRAPHICS MANTIS 

This recent addition to the worid of computer 
graphics programs is an interactive drawing/paint- 
ing program with a major distinction: While basic 
commands are issued via keyboard letters and the 
ten Function keys, you can also set up your own 
command strings for commonly used editing se- 
quences; retrieving a picture from a disk and scal- 
ing it down, for example. These may be 
programmed into the 30 remaining Function key 
slots using their Shift, Alt, and Ctrl values. 

Other graphics features are fairly standard for 
interactive programs. It is possible to draw points, 
lines, boxes, cubes, circles, ellipses, and arcs. Sim- 
ple menu-driven subroutines help define the specif- 
ics of the shape. You can also enter text, which can 
be positioned anywhere within the display. Other 
commands allow you to rotate the image 90 or 180 
degrees, scale it up or down, crop it, fill bordered 
areas with color, mirror it, use a window to copy 
portions of the image to disk, and so forth. The 
program supports either high-resolution images'or 
low-resolution displays with three colors. 



The program also comes with a library of images 
that, with a second disk drive, can be accessed 
through menu commands in the main program. 
The library disk includes both a character set and 
four files of Function key definitions, in case you 
don't want to bother setting them yourseif. 

An unfortunate drawback of the package is that 
the program manual is is poorly organized and not 
written terribly well. At points it's positiveiy un- 
grammatical and at others it is just plain sloppy. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, disk drive, 
color graphics board 
Shuttle Enterprises, $69.95... 

GRAPHICS UTILITY 

Although shape tabie programs are almost as 
plentiful as business graphics packages, this one is 
a value-packed tool for anyone interested in mak- 
ing the best of the PC's graphics. A menu-driven 
system (relatively rare among utilities of this kind), 
it allows you to create, store, and retrieve both 
characters and shapes from any of the 21-position 
shape tables. 

You start by answering a menu question about 
the size of the character to be created— up to 39 by 
39 pixels. A large grid of boxes corresponding to 
the pixel count is displayed, together with a set of 
function and cursor key commands that insert, de- 
lete, fill, invert, and clear the boxes in the grid that 
define your character. A real-size character is dis- 
played alongside the grid for instant reference. . 

Individual shapes are filed in the shape table, or 
the 39 by 39 pixel shapes can be combined into 
more complex images and then stored in compos- 
ite form on the disk. An animation program is also 
available; give it the name of the file containing the 
figures to be animated and the character numbers, 
and the program automatically assembles and dis- 
plays the animation sequence. Any character in any 
table is also retrievable through BASIC program 
commands. In addition to the on-screen displays, 
Graphics Utility provides hardcopy through an in- 
tegral screen dump to an Epson or IBM printer. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM; color graphics 
board; one disk drive 
Savant Software, $85 

GRAPHICS WIZARD 

This package for the Apple Hi is a combination of 
several different types of programs. Among them 



Graphics 



131 



are an interactive drawing/painting section, a font 
editor, and a "slide show" sequencer. 

The program's general format is similar to that of 
several other programs. It combines free-hand 
drawing with dot-by-dot font creation. Thus, single 
keystrokes or control keys are used to select 
among 15 colors for drawing, color filling, and 
background color, to define boxes and windows, 
to copy, invert, and mirror an image, to shift be- 
tween low-res and high-res operation, to type using 
special character fonts, and so forth. . ■■ 
.., There are some very notable features as well as 
the, standard ones. The most interesting is an Op- 
tion menu which is used to determine how graph- 
ics will He on^top of one another and whether the 
images are inverse or normal. Thus.it is possible to 
have the top image block out the underlying image 
or simply overlay it, or to have one imasge in nor- 
mal and the other in inverse video, all with single 
keystroke commands. 

• The font editor with this program is also quite 
exciting. It presents a screenful of dots, which are 
removed one by one to form a character as if carv- 
ing it out of a block of stone. You can also add dots 
if you make a mistake. The character is stored in its 
normal size in the shape table, but its size can be 
manipulated by simply enlarging the graphics 
screen. 

Given that this program was released as recently 
as 1983, it is surprising to find that it suffers some 
rather unfortunate problems when compared with 
other systems. The slide show feature, for instance, 
displays a programmed series of images, but the 
pace can't be varied except by pausing and there is 
no way to use a remote hand controller. .-. 

Then, too, the documentation is neither well or- 
ganized nor very clear. It's sometimes difficult to 
tell where you are, and whether you are reading an 
introductory overview or the actual operating man- 
ual. ■■■= -:.';- :•■ 

Still another flaw is a far too limited choice of 
prints supported by the program. 
Requirements: Apple 111, Profile hard disk 
Micro Lab, $100 ; 

GRAPHMAGIC 

This menu .driven program will draw pie charts, 
bar graphs, or iine graphs. You feed in the num- 
bers, tell GraphMagic what kind of graph you want, 
and the program draws it for you. In drawing a bar 
or line graph, it even chooses the range of values 



for the axes. Ydu can modify either or both ranges 
if you like.. You can also add text, including a two- 
line title that you can justify left, right, or center.' 

GraphMagic gives you a fair amount of flexibility. 
With line graphs, for example, you can plot points, 
draw a line through the points, or fill in the area 
between the base of the graph and the line. You 
can also mark the mean, median, or mode on the 
graph, and you can draw the graph over a grid of 
horizontal lines, vertical . lines, or both. When 
you're finished, you can save the graph to disk or 
print it. 

If you have a color monitor, GraphMagic will let 
you use color or black-and-white. The IBM PC ver- 
sion can use:a color monitor to display the. graph, 
while, simultaneously using a monochrome moni- 
tor to display the menus and entry screen. If you 
don't have both monitors, you can use any monitor 
that works with the color board. 
: .Probably the most interesting aspect of Graph- 
Magic \s its ability to read data files from other 
programs. In particular, GraphMagic is designed to 
be. used along with the companion program 
MatheMagic, which is reviewed elsewhere in this 
catalog. By using these two together, you can do 
things like calculate points on a sine wave with 
MatheMagic, then use the result to draw a graph 
with GraphMagic. The IBM version of GraphMagic 
can read data- from Visicalc, Supercaic, or dBASE 
//as well. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, color graphics 
adaptor, one disk drive, and BASRUN.EXE (also 
available with the program); CP/M 2.0 or later, or 
Apple. DOS 3.3, 48K RAM, one disk drive : ■' . 
Brightbill-Roberts, IBM version $90, with Mathe- 
Magic $160; Apple II version $90, with Ma the Ma gic 
$150 .-.. ■':■: .-':■.-■ "..■.■■/■■.■ 

GRAPHPLAN 

The important point about GraphPlan is not that 
it is a particularly fine, spreadsheet program; nei- 
'ther is it a simple presentation graphics program. 
Rather, Graf Plan is both— a spreadsheet and a 
graphics generator, in the same software package 
and loaded from the same floppy disk. This makes 
it something special, even if the price does seem a 
little steep for an average home or small-business 
user.. .■=,■■'.■'-" . :...-■■.. -■■:"■ 

Once the spreadsheet entries are made, a single 
command calls up the graph plotting menu. 
Prompts ascertain the type of chart— horizontal or 



132 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



vertical line and bar graphs, pie chart with or with- 
out exploded sections/colors of the different chart 
elements, and so forth. The program does the rest, 
■automatically creating the labels from the spread- 
sheet row and column titles, determining the scale 
'of the chart from the data entries, and so forth. The 
desired chart appears extremely rapidly, helpful 
when testing which presentation best suits' a sec- 
tion of spreadsheet data. Different types of chart 
can also be saved separately, then recalled as de- 
sired. Several printers are supported, together with 
Hewlett-Packard color plotters. : 

in genera] this is designed for business users 
who want the convenience of going from sprea- 
dhseet to graphics without having to change pro- 
grams, and who need the convenience of having 
changes in the spreadsheet immediately reflected 
the in the chart or graph. Those willing to pay the 
price will also find the looseleaf-bound manual en- 
tirely professional, and written for the computer 
user who wants to dive right in without having to 
learn computer theory. 

Requirements: IBM PC, DEC Rainbow, NEC APC, 
North Star Advantage, TeleVideo 803 or 1603; 64K 
RAM; double-sided disk drive 
Chang Laboratories, $395 

GRAPHWRITER 

In their literature, Graphic Communications, Inc., 
asserts that Graphwriter goes far beyond other 
business graphics packages— in fact, it is almost a 
whole new category of graphics software. This is 
as suspect as any other promotional claim. Yet, 
after a little time with the program it becomes clear 
that this is more than just hype. 

For one thing, Graphwriter offers an almost stag- 
gering choice of display formats— over forty in all. 
Formats are loaded from seven disks, each con- 
taining several choices. In the Basic Set there is a 
,(V)ertical column chart, (H)orizontal bar chart, H 
and V segmented bars, H and V clustered bars, pie 
charts with up to four pies per display, a line chart, 
a section chart for regressions, a bar chart/line 
chart combination, and a text/word chart, which 
can either stand alone or be used as an overlay 
onto graphics material. An Extension Set includes 
more exotic displays— bubble charts, flow charts, 
and Grant charts, as well as pie/bar combinations, 
paired bars, grouped bars, surface/line charts, and 
others. .'■■'■'-'■ 

You also have extensive control of variables 



within the basic formats. Vertical clustered bars, 
for example, can rise from the bottom of the graph 
or decend from the top. Paired bars may be shown 
separated or grouped. Surface/line charts will 
show the dark area either above or below the line. 
The segmented bar displays allow up. to twenty 
bars with up to eight segments each. Such oddities 
as 35-mm charts and half-page plots can be made 
quite easily. 

Another distinguishing feature is Graphwriter's 
text handling ability. Each chart can have up to 
three lines of heading, with three more lines of 
forty-eight characters each for explanations. Few 
programs offer as much. Positioning labels is done 
as easy as creating the chart. 

Anything that a graphics artist working with pen 
and ink can do' is available here, but much more 
quickly and accurately. A reference guide shows all 
the possibilities at a glance. 

The program is entirely menu driven, so you 
need only answer to make your chart. Data may be 
entered manually, or the program accepts DIF files 
from VisiCalc and other spreadsheets. Graphwriter 
also offers extensive editing, using single key- 
strokes to change the data itself, change the styles 
;of each element of the chart^the axis labels, col- 
ors, and so forth. Each set of changes is performed 
independently. 

One advantage of the program for some may be 
a problem to others; Graphwriter can be run with- 
out a graphics board and color graphics monitor 
and the results viewed only when the plotter is run. 
Making this possible has required some compro- 
mises in the screen display. If the chart is particu- 
larly complex, the program will tell, you that it 
cannot display the chart on the screen, forcing you 
to go to hardcopy. Even with a graphics board, the 
display shows only the outline of the text areas.. .-■■'■ 
Requirements: IBM PC; 128K RAM; two double- 
sided disk drives; color graphics board; RS-232 
plotter 
Graphic Communications, $595 

HIGRAPH-III 

Higraph-lll is the latest version of a very basic 
presentation graphics program that allows users of 
the IBM PC, TRS-80 Model II, and Apple li to create 
pie charts, line graphs, and bar graphs on various 
models of Houston instrument DMPL plotter. 

Each type of chart or graph has its own subrou- 
tines, asking the user to choose such features as 



Graphics 



133 



major and minor axis divisions, whether pie-chart 
sections should be exploded, the type of line to use 
in a line graph (nine choices are offered), position 
of labels, and so forth. Up to eight pen colors are 
available. 

This is not a program loaded with fancy extras, 
but .it Is quite adequate for its low price, assuming 
one has an HI plotter. ■ 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, color graphics 
board; Apple II, 48K RAM, one disk drive, serial or 
parallel interface card; TRS-80 Model II, CP/M 2,2, 
64K RAM, 8-inch double-density disk drive, serial 
port 
Houston instrument (Bausch & Lorn b), $25 ... 

HP-85 BUSINESS GRAPHICS 

. This is a truly versatile, well-constructed presen- 
tation graphics program for the Hewlett Packard 
HP-85. Although the CRT displays are not as fancy 
as those on the IBM with its color graphics board, 
this is made up for when the program is run out on 
the plotter. 

The program's -efficient organization makes it 
seem at first that only a few formats are available: 
bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs. After a 
while, you discover that within each major group 
there are dozens of ways to manipulate the data. In 
the Pie mode, for instance, you can display up to 
four pies per page (separation lines between them 
are drawn automatically), with up to twenty explod- 
able segments in each. Lettering identifying the 
segments can be placed either inside them or out- 
side, and a. legend can be positioned anywhere 
within the display. ...' 

With bar graphs, the choices are even more var- 
ied. You can plot up to 700 data points per graph, 
either above or below the X axis. There are seven 
different bar fills to choose from, plus solid and 
blank, any of which can be almost infinitely varied 
by changing the hatching size. With colored pens, 
the variations become even greater, and the pro- 
gram will stop the plotter for a pen change. The 
bars themselves can be given different widths; 
clustered in groups of up to five bars, with variable 
spacing between clusters; and divided into twelve 
segments. ■'.' ■■■■ 

You can plot up to up to thirty points on a line 
chart in up to twelve lines. Seventeen styles of line 
are available, and the data points can be indicated 
with any character, in different sizes. ■'' 

There are many other features as well. Utility pro- 



grams allow, for instance, the creation of overlays, 
enabling you to set up combination charts. There 
are also several useful utilities for file manange- 
ment, including selective copying of file elements, 
so that, for instance, the area fills selected for one 
graph can be instantly copied to another for con- 
sistency. Still another useful feature is a cataloging 
routine that prints of a full list of 108-character ti- 
tles and descriptors. 

. Although the program is menu-driven and in- 
tended for end-users with little or no programming 
experience, the documentation contains frequent 
notes and other material for programmers. More 
advanced users who want to modify the program 
are free to do so. The source code files are not 
protected. However, Commercial Software will not 
support modifications to the program that it, itself, 
has not authorized. With that one limitation, pur- 
chasers get an automatic one-year free update as 
part of the price. 

Requirements: Hewlett Packard HP-85, 32K RAM, 
Printer/Plotter ROM, HP-1B interface bus, plotter 
Commercial Software Systems, $150 

IMAGINATOR 

If you ever intend to get serious about computer 
graphics, you must come to terms with three-di- 
mensional modeling. And if you're going to do 
modeling, there is probably no better program to 
get started with than Imaginator. It's simple to use, 
written to enable wireframe compsitions of every- 
thing from a simple cube to a complex, multiplane 
form, and its cost puts it in reach of just about 
anyone. 

As we all remember from high-school geometry, 
three-dimensional objects are defined by points on 
theX, Y, and Z axes. So Imaginator asks you to first 
define where the points of your object lie — up to 
200 of them in each object. You define them 
through an incredibly powerful editor that allows 
you to position the cursor in an X, Y, Z table and 
enter the value of each point. Another editor allows 
you to describe the lines that connect the points. 
After this, you simply ask the program to draw the 
object you have defined. 

What makes 3-D modeling oh the computer such 
an exciting experience is the variety of manipula- 
tions that come into play once the basic object has 
been defined. You can, for instance, rotate the ob- 
ject to view its back or sides. You can move it to 
any position on the screen. You can change its 



134 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



apparent distance. You can view it from different 
angles, including from inside the object. - 

All the commands for these manipulations are 
entered through the object display editor almost as 
simply as the points and lines were. defined in the 
first place. At all times, the screen displays the ob- 
ject, its name, the angle of view, size, and so forth. 

The file management system is quite well 
thought out, and files can be protected against in- 
advertant writing-over. Files are stored in binary, 
compressed form, allowing many to fit on a disk. 
Printing is done through a screen dump program 
such as Zoom Grafix, or data may be fed directly 
from the Imaginator -to a plotter. 

One of this program's most impressive features 
is its manual, which introduces you not only to pro- 
gram but to the whole.field of 3-D computer graph- 
ics. There's a chapter on the 3-D coordinate 
system, another on representing objects in 3-D 
space. For some chapters, you don't even need the 
computer; they're just basic guideiinesin. case you 
slept through three-dimensional geometry. 
Requirements: Apple il, II + , lie, or III in emulation 
mode; 48K RAM; Applesoft ROM card or 16K RAM 
card; one disk drive. 
Townsend Microware, $129 

KEYCHART 

• As one of the few graphics programs for CP/M- 
based computers, this package takes on value that 
it probably would not have if it were available only 
in the more competitive MS-DOS field. 
. . KeyChart is a basic business/presentation graph- 
ics, package that offers all the standard charts, 
graphs, and text handling ability in a well-prepared, 
.completely menu-driven package. The data is en- 
tered either from the keyboard or read data files 
produced by spreadsheet programs such as 7-2-3, 
VisiCalc, SuperCalc, and Multiplan. Once the data 
file has been completed, it is rapidly transformed 
into any of four basic charts— bar, pie, line, or scat- 
ter. The results can then be previewed in full color 
(if available on the terminal) or sent to a plotter. . 

One of the program's major benefits is its text- 
handling. It incorporates text files written with pro- 
grams such as WordStar directly into the graphics 
files. In addition, the legend can be moved around 
the screen— up to 84 floating titles can be posi- 
tioned anywhere, including inside the four pie 
charts that fit on a display; letters can be italicized. 

KeyChart treats each graph as a separate file, 



enabling you to place several reduced-size charts 
in the same display, writing the files into the display 
one after the other as easily as a word processor 
reads text files together. Since your color choices 
are remembered with the data values, the entire 
composite image can be viewed on the graphics 
monitor. Still other features include the ability to 
combine line and bar charts, a choice of eight 
hatch types for bars and pie sections, and the abil- 
ity to switch instantly between horizontal and verti- 
cal displays in any chart type. - :.- 
Requirements: Kaypro; Osborne double density; 
Epson QX-10 with TTM and HASCII keyboard; IBM 
PC, 128KRAM . ■■■■■■'■.,:. 
Softkey, $375 ' .. 



MICRO ILLUSTRATOR 

After you connect your KoalaPad and put the 

Micro Illustrator diskette, into the drive, you may 
never need the illustrated 17-page manual. Micro 
illustrator is so well thought out, so simple in its 
design, that all the menu choices you need appear 
on. a single page when you press one of the 
KoalaPad buttons. The menu is graphic rather than 
simply verbal; FILL shows a partially-filled abstract 
form, DISC has filled circles. To select a mode, 
color, or brush size, you simply move the cursor to 
the appropriate box and push one of the pad's but- 
tons. Just in case of confusion, a help function de- 
scribes each of the commands when you touch the 
cursor to a box marked with a question mark. 

the program incorporates all the features found 
in most interactive drawing and painting programs, 
in the draw mode, the KoalaPad is used for free- 
hand drawing. Other modes, reached with the pad, 
include line drawing, connect the dots, automatic 
plotting with circles, and boxes, both outline and 
filled, color selection, and painting with different 
style brushes. The computer keyboard is needed to 
enter the file name when saving or recalling a pic- 
ture.,:: : •■ ■ ■■■; ■ 

Several other, programs can be run with the 
KoalaPad, and children find them particularly inter- 
esting. Coloring Series I is a set of twenty-five geo- 
metrical forms to color and manipulate using Micro 
lllus tra tor.- They are loaded from a separate disk on 
the same drive as the main program. An accompa- 
nying manual has printouts of the images and in- 
vites children to compare the results of the 
computer painting with those of regular paint. 



Graphics 



135 



Coloring Series II is similar, but has twenty-eight 
"crystal flowers" and snowflake designs. 
Requirements: Atari; Commodore 64; IBM PC; 
Apple II, II + or lie; 48K RAM; one disk drive, DOS 
3.3; KoalaPad graphics tablet 
Koala Technologies Corp., Atari and Commodore 
64, $99.95; Apple, $125; IBM, $50 

MICRO-PAINTER 

Micro-Painter is an excellent graphics-utility pro- 
gram for all ages. With it, the user can draw and 
paint on the screen. The program features invers- 
jng, line drawing, color fill, and a selection of 4 
patterns and 16 colors and 8 intensities. The pro- 
gram can be used as a toot to generate charts, 
graphics, illustrations, and other visual aids, or it 
may be used in art or other creative expression. 

The documentation is simple and fully illus- 
trated. Commands are uncomplicated. Children, 
hobbists, and professionals can enjoy this program 
as pure entertainment, employ it as a learning toot, 
or use it as a serious professional tool. Pictures 
may be saved on disk and called back to be ad- 
mired or edited. Those with a little programming 
skill can incorporate the pictures created into other 
programs. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, Atari 400 or 800, 
48K, one disk drive 
Datasoft, $34.95 '■ 

OSBOARD 1 ; OSGRAPH; OSBRIEF 

How many Osborne users actually know about, 
much less use, the 32-character graphics set in 
their Osborne 1 or Executive? With these three in- 
expensive graphics packages, you can create de- 
signs, graphs, and even electronic slide shows. 

Osboard 1 turns your keyboard into an electronic 
drawing board. You simply move the cursor around 
the screen with the Arrow keys and punch in bright 
or dim graphic and alphanumeric characters. Your 
creations can then be printed in 52-, 80-, or 104- 
column formats on many popular dot-matrix and 
daisy-wheel printers. You can also display Osboard 
7-generated graphics in any BASIC program with 
asimpleGosubcall. 

When you're through drawing pictures, you can 
get down to serious business graphics with Os- 
graph. Though primitive, the bar and pie charts and 
XY plots created by Osgraph should be suitable for 
most Osborne users. Data can be read from 
SuperCalc, dBASE II, or MBASIC or hand-entered 



sources. Often-used constants can be stored in 
separate files or changed and viewed instantly. 

Osbrief is an extremely easy-to-use addendum to 
Osboard 1 and Osgraph. It sequences and displays 
any number of graphic screens created with the 
other programs. A master file built with WordStar 
contains the file names to be accessed, the order 
and length of time they will be displayed, and the 
special effect— wipes, fades, curtains, spirals, and 
so on— used to write each file to the screen. 

The documentation for ail three programs is 
clear and comprehensive: constant onscreen in- 
structions and sample graphs in each program 
supply any information not found in the manuals. 
Error messages are equally straightforward. 

The manufacturer offers Osbrief free with a pur- 
chase of both Osboard 1 and Osgraph. Given their 
low price and capabilities, these programs are weij 
worth it. 

Requirements: Osborne 1 or Executive 
DG/Systems, Osboard $29.95; Osgraph $34.95; Os- 
brief $24.95 

PAINTER POWER 

If you look at interactive graphics programs, you 
find that inexpensive paint systems do little more 
than draw lines and fill in bounded areas, while the 
super-sophisticated graphics editors are often 
priced beyond an ordinary user's means. Painter 
Power is unique. An interactive painting program 
with the sophistication of a graphics editor, it has 
enough features to make it useful for professional 
illustrators. Yet it costs only $40. 

Painter Power creates unique images either by 
using one of eight pre-defined brush shapes to 
paint with the Apple's eight basic colors (including 
black and white), or by allowing you to create your 
own brushes. With the simplest squiggle or zig- 
zag, many intriguing abstractions can be created. 
By using a built-in routine to create circles, elipses, 
and spirals, and a mathematics program to vary the 
results, you can make an infinite variety of brush 
shapes that leave behind trails of paint in wonder- 
ful patterns. 

In a beginner's version of the program, both the 
brush shape and the painting are created on the 
color monitor; in the advanced version, a black- 
and-white monitor is used to define the brush 
shapes, which are then used on the color monitor. 
In either case, movement of the cursor may be con- 
trolled through the keyboard, a joystick, or up to 



736 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



four paddles; one of the program's better features 
is how easily it shifts control back and forth among 
these devices. Four keys govern the brush speed — 
important controls to master, since the cursor will 
keep moving once it is activated. A special preview 
mode, however, shows you what the line will look 
like without actually committing it to memory. . 

The program's more advanced features include 
"quickstroke," a way to store a special brush shape 
which can be repeated over and over again using a 
single keystroke. You can also change the direc- 
tion and color of the cursor while it is in motion. 
Another unusual visual, actually created by a basic 
flaw in the Apple's processing, gives a wavy, rip- 
pling effect if a horizontal and vertical line are used 
in the same brush. Other options allow for overall 
color changes in existing images, the ability to con- 
trol wraparound, and a slide show program that 
automatically sequences through sets of images. 

Although the simpler version of the program can 
be run by reading the menu prompts and following 
its simple instructions, there is also an extensive 
set-up menu in which all of the program's options 
and values are displayed at once and can be 
changed either before painting or while working on 
an image. ••. 

Unfortunately, Painter Power's documentation is 
not well organized. There are no illustrations,- and, 
though the text is clearly written, the publishers did 
not break it. up with headlines and subheads; one 
paragraph simply flows into the next.- Nonetheless, 
this is a good investment if you want more creative 
choices in building your computer images than 
simply changing line thickness and pen color. 
Requirements: Apple II; 48K RAM; Applesoft in 
. ROM or language card; one disk drive 
Micro Lab, $40 

PC CRAYON; EXECUTIVE PICTURE 
SHOW 

This is one of the more popular interactive draw- 
ing and painting programs for the IBM PC. it is 
designed, and comes with a manual written for, the 
user who is not a computer graphics programmer 
and simply desires to create attractive drawings 
and images — for entertainment or business appli- 
cations. It is good, basic, well-planned commercial 
software—like a word processor, except that it 
works with graphics. 

Both medium- and high-res graphics are offered, 
with the standard choices of foreground, back- 



ground, and line color. Once installed, the program 
loads the keyboard with single-stroke commands 
that display several classes of graphic image: 
drawings, graphics symbols, and vector symbols. 
The first automatically plots lines, curves, ellipses, 
and other basic shapes, and also permits free-hand 
drawing and painting. In drawing, the cursor con- 
trol keys move the brush/pen, while others change 
line thickness and color. A "continuous" style al- 
lows you to create extremely smooth fines without 
the normal stepped appearance. A "scenario" 
mode re-creates drawings on the screen, step-by- 
step, with an effect like animation. 

The other two modes are essentially file manage- 
ment tools. In the Graphics Symbols Utilities mode, 
elements of a drawing can be saved by simply de- 
. fining a window around the part of the drawing you 
want saved. Vector Symbols Utilities, a shape table 
program, allows you to store a whole set of sym- 
bols under a single file name; when loaded back 
into the computer, this file sets up the keyboard so 
that each keystroke writes a graphics symbol, or 
character. ■■.-,'■ 

This program would make a fine introduction to 
the use of computer graphics for any level of gen- 
eralized computer expertise. The manual is clearly 
written, more akin to the kind found with computer 
games than to the lengthy, complex instruction 
manuals for expert programmers; a handy refer- 
ence card contains all the operating commands. 

For the business-oriented user, PC Software also 
offers Executive Picture Show. It incorporates 
many of PC Crayon's features for freehand artwork 
but adds a section for creating line, bar, 3-D bar, 
pie, horizontal, and surface charts. Eight type fonts 
are included. (Two are standard in PC Crayon, al- 
though more can be entered.) Executive Picture 
Show also includes a sophisticated slide-show rou- 
tine, enabling the business user to present graph- 
ics material by activating a single program. 
Further, screen displays from other graphics pack- 
ages can be captured and displayed as part of the 
sequence. This facility also can activate external 
devices such as tape recorders by POKEing the in- 
terface port. 

Requirements: IBM PC; 64K RAM; color graphics 
board; BASICA 
PC Software, $44.95 

PC-DRAW 

Of all the interactive drawing and painting pro- 



Graphics 



137 



grams on the market, PC-Draw is among the top 
ten, if not the top three, in sophistication and 
power. It may be the best of all at creating such 
figures as flow charts, electronic circuit diagrams, 
drafting designs, and so forth, All the usual fea- 
tures associated with PC graphics are here, of 
course — free-hand drawing, computer-aided plot- 
ting circles, arcs, and lines, area filling, and so 
forth. But to these, PC-Draw adds several new di- 
mensions. 

It includes, for one thing,. a vast shape table pro- 
gram. It is thus like the plastic templates used in 
electronics engineering, drafting, and design, ex- 
cept that here you can design your own set of sym- 
bols and use them in any size or color. Another 
feature sets this program apart is that it supports 
the use of a light pen to enter commands from a 
menu rather than using the keyboard. ■ 

At the heart of the program is a set of user-de- 
fined Template Menus. Each contains up to 105 
symbols, which are displayed in blocks of 7 by 3 to 
the right of the drawing screen (unless a full-screen 
display is selected). Templates can contain graph- 
ics symbols, lettering styles, or both, making it 
equally simple to manipulate both graphics and 
text You may create symbols by free-hand drawing 
or computer plotting, and use them when creating 
an actual drawing. Symbols from one Template 
Menu can be used in many drawings. To select a 
symbol, you- simply place the cursor where you 
want it and enter a code number from the template 
menu. You can also move a symbol around a draw- 
ing by placing the cursor next to it. These are the 
applications, of course, where the light pen comes 
in handy. 

Each symbol used in the construction of com- 
plex figures can be manipulated separately, or the 
whole figure, with up to 100 parts, can be "com- 
pressed" and treated as a unit. Fifteen background 
colors can be selected, and the symbols can be 
displayed in any of the six basic IBM colors; filled 
with color or left the color of the background; and 
re-sized, rotated, and otherwise altered from the 
form stored in the Menu. 

Eight of the ten function keys are programmed 
with commonly-used commands, including save to 
disk, draw a circle, draw a line, expand and reduce 
the size of the image, and so forth. Two keys are 
"soft"; you can program them yourself. 

One of PC-Draw's most impressive features is 
multipage drawing within RAM — -up to four pages 



arranged in a horizontal and vertical grid. This al- 
lows you to copy symbols from one page to an- 
other within a multipage drawing.. More 
importantly, it permits some especially interesting 
animation-type sequences within the four-page file 
boundaries. There is also room within the screen 
for either full page drawings or menu displays with 
truncated drawings. 

Requirements: IBM PC; 128K RAM; color board; 
two disk drives ■ 
Micrografx, $295 ;■■=■.= 

PICTUREWRITER 

For children four to fourteen years old, this inter- 
active, drawing and painting program allows the 
creation of both /basic computer-plotted shapes 
and more complex images made by free-hand 
drawing. It's a lot of fun even if you are older than 
fourteen. . 

One of its more interesting features is a well-put- 
together demo program that functions as an elec- 
tronic coloring book; children can change/adapt, 
and color its pictures at will. Another is a manual 
that makes learning the program— and therefore 
the basics of computer graph ics^a painless, 
enjoyable experience. = 

Yet another excellent feature is the graphical 
menu display that appears on the screen along 
with .the picture, telling you which keys to press to 
create a rectangle or ova|, choose the line and 
background or fill colors, erase or save a picture, 
and so forth. The colors appear as a palette, mak- 
ing the choice even easier. And symbols accom- 
pany the various functions, so children can follow 
them. easily. 

Requirements: Apple II + or lie; 64K RAM; joystick 
orKoalaPad 
Scarborough Systems, $39.95 

PIXON 

Pixon is designed to give control over the graph- 
ics abilities of printers such as the Epson FX-80/ 
100 and MX-80/1 00, Diablo 1610/1620, IDS Prism, 
and Toshiba P1350. With a color graphics board 
for the PC, it will even give color prints. 

The program first defines the size of the matrix 
to be plotted,, then uses the screen as a window 
into the dot pattern. Dots can be created, removed, 
or mirrored, and other special effects are available. 
Thus, you could create your own alphabet or other 



138 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



form one dot at a time, using the cursor controls to 
set the dot pattern of the letters or shapes, then 
sending them to the printer. It's also possible to 
manipulate the seven alphabets supplied with the 
program as if they had been created from scratch. 

Pixon offers many features not found in compa- 
rable programs. The ability to move and edit blocks 
of dots independently and support of graphics pro- 
grams written in BASIC are two of the more promi- 
nent. 

The manual is clear, but unfortunately a little 
simplistic In its style: "Press the button and see 
what happens. Wow! The cursor just went off the 
screen!" It is worth following nonetheless. 

The manufacturer promises that Pixon will soon 
support both the Microsoft mouse and the Micro- 
neye digitizing camera, making it possible to edit 
their input dor by dot once the original image has 
been digitized. 

Requirements: IBM PC with PC-DOS; 64K RAM; 
one disk drive; color or monochrome graphics 
board ' ' 
Olive Branch Software, $79 



PM ANIMATOR 

PM Animator creates high-speed animation 
using Atari player-missile graphics (PMG). The 
package consists of a tutorial on the operation of 
PMG; editing utilities that simplify creation of PMG 
characters; and a series of machine-language rou- 
tines that can be used in BASIC programs. 

The editing utilities allow the user to draw de- 
tailed characters directly on the screen with joys- 
tick or cursor keys, as well as edit, duplicate, store 
to disk, and text animation. The machine-language 
routines permit fast motion and animation, high- 
speed loading of character files from disk during 
program execution, and creation of multicolored 
or oversized players. 

A certain understanding of PMG is necessary to 
use PM Animator to the best advantage, especially 
in debugging programs that use the machine-lan- 
guage routines. The tutorial included in the pack- 
age is essential for this- reason. There is also a 
series of demonstration programs whose code may 
be examined; these are valuable, however, only 
after the user has gained an understanding of the 
principles behind them. In short, PM Animator will 
not make the creation of arcadelike graphics as 
easy as pressing a few keys; it will make some of 



the more time-consuming programming tasks con- 
siderably easier. 

Requirements: Atari, 32K RAM, disk drive, BASIC 
Don't Ask Software, $44.95 

POOR MAN'S GRAPHICS TABLET 

The Poor Man's Graphics Tablet is an alternative 
solution to the high cost of graphics hardware. 
Using keyboard commands in place of joysticks, 
games paddles, light pens, or other free-hand de- 
vices, highly accurate and detailed high-resolution 
pictures may be created. Pictures in both black and 
white and coior can be made using an unlimited 
number of hues in 59 different textures. 

The program consists of two main sections, a 
graphics editor and a color editor. The first section 
is used to create the drawing. Command-driven 
from the keyboard, you move a cursor to draw 
straight lines, circles, and arcs, and to connect 
points. Text may be entered normally, sideways, 
and even upside down. Shapes can be drawn, up 
to 255 of them at one time, and put into shape 
tables, which may be saved to disk. These shapes 
can be laid down anywhere on the screen, rotated 
in any direction, enlarged, duplicated, and com- 
bined with other shapes to create complex pic- 
tures. 

Once a picture is drawn, the color editor is used 
to color the picture in a fashion similar to a color- 
ing book. The cursor is positioned inside the de- 
sired area, colors and texture are selected, and the 
color spreads out from the cursor to fill the area 
completely. Using Apple's four basic colors, plus 
black and white, you can mix colors and textures 
to create an unlimited variety of hues. 

Both color and black-and-white pictures can be 
saved to disk along with shape tables. These can 
then be used in your own Applesoft programs or 
printed using high-resolution dump routines or 
graphics interfaces with a suitable printer or color 
plotter. 

The program comes with three sample pictures 
and a demo-shape table consisting of 20 different 
electronic symbols. A 95-page manual in a tutorial 
format is included. 

This is a professional-quality program of excep- 
tional value; it is refreshing to see high quality soft- 
ware at a reasonable price. 

Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, or- 
II + , disk drive 
Rainbow Computing, $49.95 



Graphics 



139 



POWERDRAW 

Powerdr aw, for Radio Shack computers, is a 
graphic screen editor with all the standard fea- 
tures: It can be used to create screens with com- 
bined graphics and text Multiple screens can be 
saved temporarily in memory or to disk. It will dis- 
play a sequence of graphic screens to create ani- 
mation. The graphic screen can be printed if you 
have an Epson printer. 

Powerdraw couldn't be much easier to use. Just 
press the D key, and move the cursor with the 
Arrow keys or a joystick. To erase something, press 
the E key and then move the cursor over the part 
you want to erase. To skip over graphics you have 
already drawn without erasing, you press the S key. 
Pressing "T" lets you put text anywhere on the 
screen. 

Other screen functions include reverse the 
graphics on the screen, though not the text You 
can also do a mirror image top to bottom or a mir- 
ror image left to right. Another command flips the 
left and right sides of the screen. 
- The program works well under LDOS. TRS DOS 
1.3 was unable to load the entire DEMO.file into the 
buffers and thus the Watch Buffers command did 
not work. In general, however, this is an excellent 
program. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Model I or III, 32K; Model 4, 
48KRAM ;■-■■; ■ - ■ 

Powersoft, $39.95 . 



PRINTOGRAPHER 

Graphics capabilities are standard equipment 
today on most Apple-compatible printers. But if 
your Apple is not equipped to send graphics infor- 
mation to the printer, alas, you'll make no pictures 
or graphs! Some people choose to equip their 
Apple with one of the many graphics-printer inter- 
faces .available; but many others already have a 
nongraphics interface and wish to add graphic 
printing capabilities at a lower cost 

Printographer, at less than $50, is a high-resolu- 
tion graphics-printing utility that includes many 
features not found in hardware systems. Menu 
driven and a breeze to use, it gives you complete 
control over the final printout Inverse or normal 
images, horizontal or vertical placement, picture 
magnification up to 99 times, cropping of the 
image to any size and into -'diamond" or ''cameo" 
shapes, and placement of the picture anywhere on 



the printer page: These are just some of the things 
Printographer can-do; ..■■'■ 

You may save your cropped pictures to disk, and 
a special ''compress" program saves picture files 
in. less than the normal 34 sectors. Included also is 
a routine that can be put in your own programs Xg 
allow high-resolution screen printing. Pictures may 
even be transmitted by modem with communica- 
tions software such as ASCII EXPRESS: The 
Professional. 

Printographer is claimed to interface with vir- 
tually any printer/interface combination available, 
even color printers. Through the use of a "confi- 
gure" program which is automatically run the first 
time the disk-is booted, the user selects a printer/ 
interface combination from a vast list or creates his 
or her own custom driver by following simple inr 
structions. 

Complete with an excellent user's manual, the 
Printographer disk comes with its own backup pror 
gram that will make a total of three archivalcopies. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie; 48K RAM; Ap* 
plesoft BASIC, one disk drive, printer with dot-ad- 
dressable graphics --■■■ 
Southwestern Data Systems, $49.95 

RAINBOW GRAPHICS 

'-. The Apple II has long been famous for its superb 
high resolution color graphics. For most, of us, 
however, the production, of high-quality graphics 
using Applesoft BASIC usually proves difficult and 
frustrating. Rainbow Graphics provides a way to 
produce elaborate high-resolution color graphics 
quickly and easily without any programming 
knowledge. Requiring only a good quality joystick 
for operation, the program makes absolutely no 
use of the Apple keyboard. ■ 

Using the joystick either to position a cursor or 
to make a menu selection and the two pushbuttons 
to select "yes" or "no," you can virtually turn your 
joystick into a paintbrush. Freehand lines, straight 
lines, open frames, fillednn boxes, circles, and po- 
lygons may all be produced with amazing ease. For 
example, to draw a circle, you simply specify the, 
center and the outer edge; the computer does the 
rest You may change both the background and 
pen color to black, white, green, orange, blue, or 
violet Boxes, circles, or any closed shape may be 
filled with any of the six colors. A color-burst mode 
allows the freehand painting of colors with: no 
boundaries. 



140 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



A "label" option with a choice of six type fonts 
permits labelling your pictures. Characters may be 
positioned both vertically and horizontally. 
.:, Rainbow Graphics provides three different meth- 
ods of storing shape definitions utilizing shape ta- 
bles. You may build a shape dot by dot, freehand 
style, or by saving a small segment of a previously 
loaded picture. A scratch pad utility allows testing 
of the shape table being built without affecting the 
picture under construction. 

All pictures and shape tables may be saved to 
disk as regular binary files to be recalled later or 
used as parts of other programs. Pictures may be 
printed directly from the program if you have a Sil- 
entype printer; otherwise, you must use an external 
high-resolution dump program or graphics inter- 
face board and printer, '. 

This is a useful and enjoyable program, but the 
user should be: aware that a steady hand is re- 
quired. The slightest variation in movement is ac- 
curately recorded on the screen. 
Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC in 
ROM, or II + , disk drive, color TV or. monitor,. non- 
self-centering joystick with two pushbuttons 
Rainbow Computing, $29.95 



SCIENTIFIC PLOTTER 

This somewhat specialized line-graph generator 
should prove of immediate benefit to almost every 
scientific user who must handle tabular data. You 
could, of course, invest $300 or more in a presen- 
tation and business graphics package, then adapt 
it to your particular needs.: But Scientific Plotter 
has already done it for you— and at a price that 
seems more than reasonable. 

This package is clearly intended for plotting 
complex scientific data. There are twenty different 
styles of plotting points, so that many lines can be 
plotted in the same display. The margin of error, in 
data can be indicated by a vertical bar through 
each point. Different scales can be provided on the 
same graph, and the grid size and spacing of the 
axis values are fully controllable. Text is displayed 
with an integral set of 124 characters. 

Data entry from, the keyboard is simple, in re- 
sponse to weli-phrased prompts. If you don't like 
the way a graph is turning out, you can erase it and 
begin over, changing only the variables that were 
causing trouble; your other choices become the 
default settings. For $25 extra, you can get a pro- 



gram to convert DIF files written by VisiCalc and 
other spreadsheet programs into a format that can 
be automatically plotted by Scientific Plotter. 

Unfortunately, the literature confuses the choice 
of printer and plotter interfaces. (Neither interface 
is supplied with the program.) For hardcopy on. a 
dot-matrix printer, you must either buy an intelli- 
gent interface printer card or invest $35 in Smar- 
tware's Advanced Grafpak program, which 
supports dozens of printer cards and printer com- 
binations, if you would rather the sophistication of 
a plotter, IMI offers $30 interface programs for 
either the HP 7470A or Houston Instrument DMP 
series. .-.■■:.■"■■.■ ■ 

Requirements: Apple II, 48K RAM; Apple lie, 64K 
RAM ; printer/plotter interface card or software ' 
Interactive Microware, $25; DIF file converter, $25 



SCREEN DIRECTOR 

This is a sequence controller for Apple II graph- 
ics displays. Though designed as a companion 
program to Apple II Business Graphics, it works 
with any graphics file created with DOS or Pascal'. 
For faster operation, it can convert DOS. picture 
files or text files created with Pascal into high-res- 
olution Pascal language files. 

Trays of "slides" — screen presentations and text 
fiies — are created in response to a series of 
prompts and commands entered through the key- 
board. Commands are issued in Pascal-like verb- 
noun strings such as CHANGE DESCRIPTIONS or 
CREATE SHOW:TEXT. Screen Director isn't quite 
as completely menu-prompted as some similar, pro- 
grams, and it requires a little. study in the well-or- 
ganized program manual before you can get 
started. 

Slide entries contain the name of the picture file 
to be shown together with the kind of transition- 
desired and the duration of each image. Global and 
group commands for all slides in a sequence avoid 
having to repeat commands every time a new slide 
is entered. The slides can be run automatically at a 
rate set by the control file or switched manually 
from the keyboard or a remote control supplied 
with the package. Alternatively, you can use a joys- 
tick or game paddle to change displays. 

Screen Director can also be used to send dis- 
plays to a printer or plotter. Both on-screen and 
hardcopy images can be improved by running the 
data through the Electrohome graphics board, 



Graphics 



141 



which Screen ^Director supports. Another nice fea- 
ture is the ability to run other programs while in the 
middle of creating a command sequence. This 
makes it possible to stop writing commands and 
look at an image before deciding whether to in- 
clude it in the sequence. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie; 64K RAM; two 
disk drives : 

Business and Professional Software, Appie II, 150; 
Apple III, $250 



SOFTPLOT/BGL 

For those who already have a working knowl- 
edge of BASIC, this two-part program offers a set 
of graphics commands that can be used in a BASIC 
program to create sophisticated two- and three-di- 
mensional images. One of BGL's best features is 
its ability to run on virtually any computer with CP/ 
M or DOS. 

BGL itself is a BASIC Graphics Language, com- 
parable to CORE and GKS standards in capabili- 
ties, but operating with simple BASIC-style 
commands. There are thirty-four commands in all, 
ranging from instructions to create windows and 
viewports in 2-D drawings to a complete set of 
color choice and area fill commands to advanced 
3-D object rotation, movement, and change in 
viewing angle. Still other commands create dashed 
lines, change background color, plot lines between 
any two points, and so forth. Ail the features that 
other programs present in a menu are available 
here.as part of a programming language. 

Emuplot, the second of the two programs in this 
package, allows the conversion of your graphics 
material for use by a standard dot matrix printer 
without graphics capability. 

Requirements: CP/M-86 or MS-DOS; Microsoft 
BASIC; 15K RAM workspace .= .; 
Mosaic Software, $200 



SOFTSLIDE 

Softsiide is an unusual program that seems to 
combine elements from other software into a hy- 
brid graphics package. Features from Sirius Soft- 1 
ware ! s E-Z Draw form the heart of Softslide's 
interactive freehand drawing routine. Higher Text, 
.from Synergistic Software, contributes to the char- 
acter generator. To these, MACS has added an 
original program sequencer used to create "slide 



show" sequences. This combination offers flexibil- 
ity but is a bit confusing. 

Part of the confusion comes from the huge array 
of diskettes required to run Softsiide. The "Crea- 
tion Master" disk contains the character generator 
fonts— 14 in the basic set, with 24 additional fonts 
on another disk. A separate disk holds the pro- 
gramming instruction for the slide shows, and yet 
another is needed to run the printer programs. A 
sixth contains a demonstration slide show, and you 
get five pre-prepared "slide trays" — data storage 
disks. Each will fit up to fifteen standard images, 
and some forty compressed-density pictures. To 
set up sequences for a "slide show," you label the 
trays, tell how many slides are in each, and identify 
the individual picture elements. Be careful about 
labeling the "trays;" you can lose an image by for- 
getting the name of its tray. 

The drawing program is fairly typical Apple fare. 
Basic shapes—circles, ellipses, rectangles, lines, 
and others — are created by marking two cursor po- 
sitions. Drawing in either outline or filled color re- 
quires only single- keystroke commands. Images 
can be moved by creating a window, then re-posi- 
tioning it. 

The TEXT mode places text at the cursor loca- 
tion, in either standard lettering or one of 38 spe- 
cial lettering fonts. Some of the fonts are quite 
ordinary, but some are more like graphic symbol 
tables for flowcharts, floor plans, and the like. You 
have your choice of small or large fonts. In addi- 
tion, you can save a portion of the screen as an 
IMAGE— defined and stored under a name you se- 
lect, then red rawn anywhere you wish. 

Perhaps the most exciting feature is Softslide's 
ability to create rolling and crawling titles whose 
features — speed, color, font selection, direction of 
movement, and size— can be varied in mid-crawl. 
Setting up the program for these moves is more 
complex than interactive creation but is 'still easy to 
master; before every command line you simply type 
an exclamation point, followed by the command — 
Fast, Blue, Fnt {= font), or whatever. 

The manual tends to be a little simplistic, written 
for the person who knows nothing about comput- 
ers. For those with some experience, this can be 
irritating. But it is clear and covers just 'about 
everything you need to know. 
Requirements: Apple II, li + , and He, 64K RAM; one 
diskdrive : 

Management and Computer Services, $500 



142 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



SPACE TABLET/ADVANCED SPACE 
GRAPHICS 

... In the world of graphics for microcomputers, few 
programs can lay any claim to being unique. Lim- 
ited by processing power and memory sizes, most 
programs .fit into certain categories and have sev- 
eral competitors. But there are some notable ex- 
ceptions, and this hardware/software package is 
one: a.three-dimensiona! digitizer that offers inter- 
active editing of. points in 3-D space! ..,;:.. 

The Space Tablet is the hardware component. 
It's something like a bit pad, but with a. difference: 
The jointed arm, rather than an electronic stylus, 
moves up and down on the Z axis in addition to X 
and Y movements. When you move it to a new lo- 
cation and push a button, the X, Y, and I Z coordi- 
nates enter the database of the object being 
defined. Thus, it is possible to trace.. the outlines of 
a solid object, and have the .results entered pre- 
cisely, on a pre-selected scale. Once there, the 
points are connected by line segments to form a 
wireframe outline of the object The. screen dis- 
plays three static views of the object at once. Or, If 
you would rather,. you can view a full^sized rendi- 
tion of the model that can be moved and rotated by 
using the Space Tablet's arm as a 3-D joystick: 
. Several, features make this a truly professional 
CAD system. In the first place, you can duplicate 
parts of:a model already entered into the database, 
changing the .the perspective as the. sections are 
duplicated around a common axis. Then, too, with 
"transformations" from an on-screen. menu, you 
can perform all manner of operations— re-scaling, 
zooming, moving, rotating, "dragging" points and 
lines, and so forth, it -is even possible to visualize 
changes in the object without actually, transform- 
ing. it until the decision is made. An option allows 
you to place a label anywhere within the display. 
Dimensions of the object can be calculated auto- 
matically from your scale and dimension markers 
displayed.wherever you wish. 

You can also plug in a high-resolution digitizing, 
tablet and use it for standard two-dimensional ap- 
plications. A standard Space Graphics package 
does many of the same things-as Advanced Space 
Graphics but with fewer bells and whistles. A high- 
resolution graphics board is available for the IBM 
PC. A demonstration disk is sold separately. 
Requirements: Apple II + or Me, 64K RAM, one disk 
drive, DOS 3.3; IBM PC, 128 or 320K RAM, color 
graphics board, one disk drive, game port 



Micro Control Systems, Space Tablet with Space 
Graphics software $795; Space Tablet with Ad- 
vanced Space Graphics software $1695; high-reso- 
lution board $750; demonstration disk $25 

SURFACE 

, Like Arbplot, described earlier, this. program is 
designed to aid math students in visualizing math- 
ematical equations. For the serious computer 
graphics enthusiast, it offers highly complex three- 
dimensional modeling. This can be accessed from 
a simple menu or used through well-explained 
BASIC programming commands. Since virtually all 
3-D computer modeling programs are based, on 
various forms of equation with two variables (qu ad- 
ric surfaces, cubic patches, and so forth), the pro- 
grammer who really wants to learn about ..3-D 
should consider thisa wise investment , . 

The program is loaded from a single disk, which 
contains not only the plotting routines but exam- 
ples that can be called up and manipulated or ed- 
ited. For norm ai operation, the ^standard Apple 
display resolution is used; this creates a 1 6 by 1 6- 
unif grid onto which the differential equation is 
plotted using 17 by 17 corner points of each rectan- 
gle in the main grid. This produces a wire frame 
display of the desired surface in a relatively short 
time. For those willing to wait about seven minutes 
for the picture, a, high-res mode plots 49 by. 49 cor- 
ner.points for each of the rectangles, yielding an 
extremely handsome image. : . '■■■;.■■■,■; ■ 

.The program offers some 3-D modeling features 
that are extremely sophisticated for such an inex- 
pensive package. The viewpoint, for. instance, can ' 
be manipulated, so that the object can be viewed 
from any angle and rotated about the axes with 
true 3-D perspective. The defined surface can also 
be reproportioned by changing both horizontal 
and vertical axes, and can be positioned anywhere 
on the screen by changing the value for the center 
of the display. 

Surface is not going to give you facile color 
graphics, and it's not an "instant drawing"- pro- 
gram. But it is certainly a worthwhile program for 
the computer graphics.enthusiast, and can help in 
future work for anyone serious about three-dimen- 
sional modeling. As with Arbplot, a demo disk is 
available for $2 shipping and.handling. : 
Requirements: Apple II or II + .64K RAM; one disk 
drive, DOS 3.3 
Conduit, $65 



Graphics 



143 



TARGET IMAGE MAKER 

The novel concept behind this program is to 
send graphics created with Apple Business Graph- 
ics or ApplePlot, over a telephone modem to Corn- 
share. The firm then enhances the image, either 
selects the coiors it considers best or follows a 
color scheme you specify, and translates the data 
into high-resolution color slides. These are 
shipped to you in as little as twenty-four hours, with 
rush handling. The service is automatically billed 
to your credit card. "_; 

The program comes with two disks. One enables 
your Apple : to store data in Comsearch-readable 
files, the other contains the protocol needed to 
communicate with the firm's main computer. 

After running the configuration program, you 
issue a series of commands that transmit your data 
files to Comshare together with instructions to set 
the color and other factors in the enhancement. 
These are entered with one-line SET commands: 
SET DEVICE TARGET, for example, changes the 
color cycling among different chart elements. 
Other commands include SET COLOR, DRAW 
BAR, and LOAD POINTS. 

One of the best parts of this program is the man- 
ual, which is written precisely for the businesspeo- 
ple who will use it. It's split into two sections, one 
on Apple Plot, the other on Apple Business Graph- 
ics, and an amazing Appendix, which contains 
color samples of charts and graphs, comparing the 
way they appear on the Apple screen and the way 
Comshare transforms them, using different color, 
ranges. Each sample is accompanied by the set of 
instructions that produced it, so you can simply 
follow one of the examples if you like the way it 
turned out. 

Requirements: Apple II; 64K RAM; two disk drives; 
communication card; 300 baud modem; ApplePlot 
or Apple Business Graphics 
Comshare Target Software, $175, plus $20 per slide 
on overnight rush and $25 per order shipping and 
handling 

TYPEFACES 

Many programs let you insert one or two type 
faces into your graphics for labels, identification, 
or headlines. Others let you create your own type 
faces by assembling the letters dot by dot. Yet 
there is only one program designed to give you 
complete choice of lettering styles and sizes: Type 
Faces. 



With it, you get sixteen type faces — fancy, calli- 
graphic letters for use on an invitation, the formal 
Times Roman style used in newspapers, Greek let- 
ters, and ornate Gothic, styles, all In different 
weights and sizes. You also get a set of over 100 
symbols — stars, diamonds, a bell shape, and so 
forth. All can be inserted into text created with 
standard word processors, or you can use them 
with Type Faces's own flexible text editor. 

The output prints on virtually any standard dot 
matrix printer. A very special feature of the pro- 
gram, however, is that it will take any of the letter- 
ing styles and reduce them to the size of standard 
typewriter text. In this format, the dot pattern of the 
dot matrix disappears, and you are ieft with letter- 
quality printouts in a wide variety of text styles. 
Requirements: IBM PC, Apple II + or lie, Columbia 
Data Products, Compaq; 64K RAM; two disk drives 
Alpha Software Corp., $95 



UGRAF 

uGraf is a serious, no-nonsense presentation 
graphics program for the serious business user, it 
features a commanding array of program options, 
well laid out and easy to use even for the occa- 
sional operator, but with enough shortcuts so that 
it can be used frequently without getting bored. 

The impressive features start with the wide range 
of computer systems it accommodates and its abil- 
ity to accept keyboard entry, database files created 
with dBASEII or Condor, DIF and BASIC files, and 
several others. ' ; . 

Bar charts are either vertical or horizontal, with 
up to two hundred bars in a standard display, up to 
fifty stacked bars, and up to twenty groups of two 
hundred paired bars. Pie charts hold up to twenty, 
and slices may be automatically labeled with infor- 
mation from the data file or else labeled when you 
are creating the pie. When creating line plots, you 
have your choice of up to two hundred data points 
per line, with an unlimited number of lines per 
chart. A scatter plot can hold two hundred points 
per variable with an unlimited number of variables. 
In both line and scatter plots, the data used for 
different lines can come from different data files, 
enabling side-by-side comparisons. Surface plot- 
ting permits an unlimited number of surfaces with 
50 points per surface. Within each type of chart, 
you specify the color, pattern, pattern angle, and 
pattern intensity for the various pieces of the image 



144 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



— more than enough to distinguish among the 
twenty pie slices or fifty stacked bars. 

Unsurprisingly, there is also a host of graphics 
and text features to accompany these graphs. Five- 
line headings and footings are available, with the 
text justified on either margin or centered, and 
color specified on a line-by-line basis. Scales may 
be linear, log, discrete, or actual, and may be either 
entered when, the chart is put together or created 
automatically from the data file. , 

Also supplied are easily-installed and followed 
programs allowing the use of graphics printers and 
plotters. .... ."."..'.';' 

Requirements: CP/M-80 2.2, 64K RAM; MS-DOS, 
192K RAM; two double sided/double density disk, 
drives ;, 
Transparent Data Systems, $295 

VIDEOGRAPH 

This innovative group of programs, written in 
UCSD Pascal father than BASIC, was originally de- 
veloped for use by television stations and other 
video professionals working with larger computer 
systems. -Thus, the 'microcomputer versions incor- 
porate an enormdus range of advanced graphics 
capabilities hard to find on programs written only 
for home computers. When the program is run on 
such advanced systems as the Jupiter 7 and AED 
767, it offers even more power, including resolu- 
tion. of up to 1,024 by 780 pixels in full color and 
acceptance of images from a video camera in real 
time. ;' 

Although the program can be installed to work 
with the Function Keys alone, it supports either a 
mouse or a digitizing tablet and electronic stylus. 
With the tablet, the keyboard is all but redundant 
95 percent of the time. 

Basic graphics functions include line widths var- 
iable from two to 32 pixels; a choice of 16 colors 
per image out" of a possible 256; independent se- 
lection of fill,. background, and outline colors; win- 
dowing that expands" an area of the image for 
detailed editing; and extensive rubber stamping. 
With this feature, a section of the image or certain 
"primitives"— lines, angles, rectangles, ellipses, 
and so. forth — can be copied repeatedly through- 
out the screen. Other graphics features include an 
"airbrush" mode in which the intensity of a color 
being laid down can be varied, and the ability to 
type characters in the drawing color anywhere on 
the screen. 



Also part of this package is VGtype, a font cre- 
ator that stores up to 96 characters in a standard 
ASCII set, displaying them either in real size or ex- 
panded on a composition grid. When enlarged, the 
characters can be edited pixel-by-pixel, copied 
from one half to four times. normal size into other 
fonts, have their baselines and heights changed, 
and so on. 

...The program supports only the Sweet-P plotter, 
but interfaces for several other models will be avail- 
able shortly. Also on its way is a business graphics 
package, VGchart, compatible with the drawing 
and typography programs described above. Using 
menu prompts for keyboard .entry, or accepting 
data files from spread hseet programs, it will auto- 
matically plot charts and graphs with; the same 
high-image-quality graphics produced by the basic 
program... 

Requirements: NEC APC; IBM PC; p-System or 
MS-DOS; Jupiter 7 and AED 767 ....... 

Xiphias, Videograph $1000; VGchart (when avail- 
able) $295 



VISITREND/PLOT 

Unlike most business graphics programs, which 
simply. display data entered through the keyboard 
or read from a file, VisiCorp's program also fore- 
casts and projects time series data. Thus, though it 
is not intended to produce the full-color charts and 
graphs that other programs offer, it has advantages 
for the business that needs more than pretty pic- 
tures. One example is a high-low. chart, the kind 
used in stock market analysis, which can be com- 
bined with a line chart to track market trends. ,..,'■ 

A menu leads you through the type of analysis 
you want and the calculations you need, and the 
program does the number crunching for you. It cre- 
ates DIF files, which can then be displayed as a 
variety of charts and graphs, including line, bar, 
and pie charts, area graphs, and X-Y plots. Text- 
only graphs can also be handled quite easily, and 
the program has extensive features for including 
text within graphic displays. You can also display 
more than one chart per display— either similar 
charts plotted along the same axes or completely 
different types (bar and pie, for example). 

The manual and reference cards are among the 
best available with programs of this type, and the 
examples of charts and graphs — both those 
printed in the manual and those on an example 



Graphics 



145 



disk— make it easy to grasp the program's fea- 
tures. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk 
drives; Apple II or II + .48K RAM, DOS 3.3, two disk 
drives; Wang Professional Computer 
VisiCorp, $300 

WORD-PLOT AND BIG-PRINT 

. Even if you don't want to invest in the simplest 
business graphics package, you can still create X/Y 
plots with your PC: This handy utility program 
transforms any DOS-based word processor pro- 
gram into a plotter. 

The program is menu driven. Jt first asks whether 
you want to create a new file, edit an existing one, 
or store or recall plot points. You then answer a 
few questions about plot size— the grid can be any- 
where from one inch square to the size of an entire 
page, whether you want to enter the scale manually 
or have the computer create it for you, and the 
titles of your axes. The graph is then created using 
the underline and vertical line for grid elements 
and the asterisk for plot points. The result may be 
Shown on the monitor, sentdirectly to the printer; 
or saved as a word processor file, which can then 
be read into your text. 

.From the same company, Big Print is a simple 
little program for creating seven-inch-high letters 
on any standard parallel printer. After loading the 
program, you simply type in a message up to 255 
characters long. The program verifies that no "ille- 
gal" characters have been used, then prints out the 
message on 82-column paper— suitable for string- 
ing about the office or "covering the side of a 
barn" as ATC suggests. 

Requirements: IBM PC; Word Plot 64K RAM; Big 
Print 48K RAM; one disk drive 
ATC Software, Word Plot $19.95, Big Print $17.95. 

XCEL GRAPHICS 

This line of graphics products includes some ex- 
tremely exciting programs for either the TRS-80 
Model II ortheSuperbrain/Compustar. The catch is 
that you must install a new graphics processor 
board with 16K add-on memory, it clips easily into 
the card cage, but also requires adding a resistor 
or two on the current video board and a switch to 
select between graphics or terminal display or a 
combination. This is not to be undertaken by those 



who are squeamish about taking the cover off a 
computer, but it is definitely worth the effort: It 
transforms the screen into a super-high-resolution 
51 2 by 240 format. 

. The software is not interactive but is designed to 
be used with virtually any language, from Fortran, 
Cobol, BASIC, and Pascal to assembler. The sym- 
bol generator, for instance, uses simple commands 
to create circles, rectangles, elipses, arcs, and the 
like, either filled or outline. Another subroutine, the 
3-D generator, uses simple commands to define 
points in space, connect them with lines, and re- 
draw the wireframe object from any viewing angle. 
A surface plotter displays curved surfaces in 3-D 
perspective, removing hidden lines. A graph pro- 
gram plots two sets of data as line graphs on the 
same axes; area fills of various types are also pro- 
vided. Finally, a screen dump program prints out 
graphics created with the other programs; most 
popular printers are supported. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model II or SuperBrain/ 
Compustar; CP/M 2.2; 64K RAM; two disk drives 
Maxtek, TRS-80 version $895; SuperBrain/Com- 
pustar package, $995 



ZOOM GRAFIX 

This is a dandy little screen dump program that 
works with over 1,000 combinations of interface 
card and printer— virtually any the average user is 
likely to encounter. It. permits extremely flexible 
printouts of high-res graphic images from either 
graphics screen. One of the program's chief selling 
points is its extremely flexible package of user- 
specified printing capabilities: over 65,000 combi- 
nations of size and proportion, zoom into and print 
any area of the screen, upright and rotated print- 
ing, automatic centering or adjustible margins, 
negative or positive printing, and so forth. All vari- 
ables have sensible default settings, allowing trou- 
ble-free operation when no special features are 
selected. The operating parameters are easily 
changed by altering entries in the Picture Menu 
presented when the program is loaded. Configura- 
tion for different printers is as easy as answering a 
series of menu prompts. 

Requirements: Apple II, II +, lie, or III; 48K RAM; 
one disk drive 
Phoenix Software, $49.95 



146 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



LOJDRD PRDCES5IOIB 



CflJlfriting is easy," Red Smith once observed. 
W "All you do is sit in front of a typewriter 
until little drops of blood appear on your fore- 
head." 

: Many, writers would agree. Nothing is more diffi- 
cult than forging a graceful sentence — except writ- 
ing enough of them to fill a coherent paragraph, 
then going on until an article or essay, short story, 
or novel is complete. 

But Smith was writing when word processors 
were costly and rare. We no longer have that ex- 
cuse. A personal computer and a good piece of 
software can do more to ease the creation of 
professional prose than all the prayers murmured 
to the muses. 

Most of us would like to believe that we sacrifice 
our sweat to the gods of art; in fact, it goes to the 
mechanics of typing. It is an uncommon writer who 
does not tinker with opening paragraphs. Many re- 
work them several times, and true perfectionists — 
or simple compulsives—have been known go 
through several dozen rewrites before reaching the 
second paragraph. Repeatedly retyping those first 
lines can take more time, energy, and paper than 
an entire story. And in completing the piece there 
are typos to correct, paragraphs to transpose, 
needless words to cut. More typing. 
. It's this sort of busywork that a word processor 
eliminates: If you hit the wrong key, backspace, 
and try again. To delete a word, type a control char- 
acter; to ki|l an entire line, type another control 
code. To copy or move a block of text, simply put 
markers at the beginning and end, move the cursor 
to the destination, and type a control code — four 
or five keystrokes in all. The exact procedure varies 
with the program, and some word processors are 
needlessly cumbersome. But none forces you to 
retype yourpage to clean up after a few changes. It 
is not easy to design a word processor as tedious 
to use as a typewriter. 

- Yet most programs are better suited to some 
tasks than to others, and a few are worth using at 
all only if a typewriter is the sole alternative. Some 
word processors, in the public domain, are avail- 
able for the cost of copying a disk, while others 
cost up to $1,000. Their range of power and com- 
plexity is equally broad. Finding the one that suits 
you best will take a determined search, but the ef- 
fort will be well repaid. 

If you already own a computer, of course, that 
narrows the field; just how much depends on 



which model you have. There are only three or four 
common word processors for the VIC-20, half a 
dozen for Atari computers. Yet word processors 
are.the most common variety of software available, 
the first item most people choose after settling on 
their computer. There are at least 70 programs for 
the IBM PC, many of them heavily advertised; mak- 
ing an informed choice between them will take 
sometime. 

Start by looking at your own needs. If all you will 
ever do is write the occasional letter, almost any 
word processor should be adequate. Find one 
that's simple, easy to learn, and inexpensive, and 
you needn't ask for more. But think of it as being 
your first word processor, not your last. It is aston- 
ishing how quickly new uses for a computer appear 
once you are accustomed to having one; some of 
them will probably require a more elaborate word 
processor. 

More complex needs can also narrow the field. 
Are you likely to send out form letters? For most 
computers, there are at least a few word proces- 
sors that can pull names and addresses from a 
mailing list file and insert them into a boilerplate 
letter. Others produce text files that can be used by 
a stand-alone mailing list manager, an accessory 
available for most, though not all, word proces- 
sors. You will need one or the other. 

Do you ever write long manuscripts? Perhaps 
business reports or technical manuals? if so, you 
may want a word processor that automatically cre- 
ates indexes and a table of contents. One that can 
perform elementary arithmetic within the . text 
might help as well. Only a few offer such facilities, 
however, and they tend to be more complex than 
most. If you can't afford some extra time to become 
proficient with the program, it might be better to 
use one of the simpler ones and stick to manual 
indexing and a calculator. And there are limits to 
the formatting ability built into any word processor. 
Rew if any can handle footnotes that wrap from one 
page to the next. Academic writers may have to rely 
on a specialized text formatting program to turn 
out an acceptable thesis. 

Oddly, one of the simplest-sounding require- 
ments is also one of the most difficult to meet: Cre- 
ative writers, by and large, do not need any 
indexes, or arithmetic, or mailing lists. Neither do 
they require footnotes, support for uncommon 
printers, or complex printing formats — except for 
screenplay writers, whose scripts must be laid out 



Word Processing 



147 



in a pattern nearly impossible to create with most 
word processors. What they do need is trans- 
parency, the ability to use the program so fluidly 
that it never distracts them from the business of 
writing or tires them halfway through a long manu- 
script '":"■"■; ■'■■_ ;' 

For any writer, this is a quality to be treasured. 
Unfortunately, really transparent word processors 
may be the rarest of all. And though it is not impos- 
sible to design a program that is both transparent 
and versatile, few have done it. If your thoughts are 
easily interrupted/it may be best to buy one of the 
simpler programs, one with few commands to 
strain your memory, and rely on accessory pro- 
grams for such functions as complex formating, 
index generation, footnoting, and the like. This will 
narrow your selection again. While several dozen 
s u p p o rt p rog ra m s are avai I a b I e f o r Wo rdSta r— f ew 
people's idea of a transparent word processor- 
few others are so well supplied with aid. ''"■"■ 

You will want at least one word processing ac- 
cessory in any event: a good spelling checker. You 
will want one no matter how weityou spell. Even 
the best of us makes an occasional typographical 
error, and the chances of finding.all the mistakes in 
a sizable manuscript are remote. For a poor speller, 
the task is hopeless; no one who consistently mis- 
spells a word can be/expected suddenly to get it 
right when checking over the finished text. ; '. "; 
: The most obvjous concern in choosing a spelling 
checker is whether it will work with the word pro- 
cessor you' have chosen. Some word processors 
include a spelling checker; others offer compatible 
prorams as accessories. And many spelling check- 
ers will deal with files created by many word pro- 
cessors, if 'your chosen word processor is so 
uncommon that no spelling checker is available for 
it, you may want to reconsider. 

•Then comes the size of the dictionary. The more 
words it can recognize, the less time you will have 
to spend reassuring it — and yourself— -that uncom- 
mon ones are correctly spelled. Dictionary size 
should be. treated with the same suspicion as any 
other form of advertising, however. Programs that 
claim to use huge dictionaries may recognize no 
more words than others; they just count prefix and 
suffix variations in the total, where others count 
only root words. 

Most spelling checkers permit you to save lists of 
uncommon words to be checked before probable 
mistakes are reported. For a technical writer, the 



ease of saving these supplemental lists and the 
number of words that may be saved may be a major 
factor in the choice of a program. Some also offer 
medical and legal dictionaries that can be very 
helpful in a professional office. 

Other factors add up to ease of use, or the lack of 
it. Does a program correct -all occurrences of a 
given error at once, or must you go through the 
text fixing them individually? Will it check through 
supplemental dictionaries automatically, or must 
you give it special instructions for each? Above, all, 
how fast is it? There are large variations, and the 
only way to find out is to test the program on one 
of your own text files before you buy.' . . 
'.No word processor can make you a better Writer.: 
Neither can a spelling checker — though repeatedly 
fixing a mispelled word may finally teach you its 
correct spelling. But better writing is the goal of 
another category of word processing accessory: 
grammar and style checkers. Some of their func- 
tions are strictly mechanical— making sure that 
sentences begin with capital letters, that parenthe- 
ses, and quotation mark's occur in pairs, and so on. 
Other functions mark passive verb constructions, 
cliches, and needless words— "in a hasty manner" 
rather than ''hastily'— and offer better ways to 
phrase the idea. Using one of these programs takes 
some extra wo rk, : but clearer, more concise writing 
istheresuit, ! r> < ■"*''■■ -'''':''• 

■ Do not get bogged down in looking at word pro- 
cessing accessories, however. The primary goal is 
to find a word processor that allows you to record 
your. words efficiently and without interruption. A 
spelling checker or grammar and style program is 
justabonus.co . r - : 



APPLE WRITER 111 

Originally designed for the Apple II, this menu- 
driven word-processing program has been rewrit- 
ten to accomodate the standard 80-column screen 
and directory structure of the Apple III. Like its pre- 
decessor, Apple Writer III is : a competent /per- 
former/ ..-"•'" .-' '"'■' ■'■_■"■■■':■■■■/■ ■'■'■■ : i 

The opening screen summarizes the control-key 
functions that will load, save, delete, and perform 
SOS operations. 

In the editing mode, text is displayed on 23 lines. 
The top line, a status line, indicates cursor posi- 
tion, current text length, free memory space, and 
whether text blocks are marked for erase or' liner- 



148 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ase. You can remove the status line, to leave the 
entire screen available for editing. 

Apple Writer III has all the standard text-handling 
features, as well as a few not-so-standard ones. 
There is a glossary function that allows you to de- 
fine multiple-keystroke commands as single-key 
entries, thus, a series of control codes needed to 
activate a special printer function can be entered 
with a single keystroke. And you can save these 
redefined commands to disk for later use. 

You use the Arrow keys to move. the cursor 
within the document. Vertical movement of the cur- 
sor, however, can be erratic.7\pp/e Writer III bases 
its horizontal cursor movement upon an 80-char- 
acter line. Unfortunately, it does not take into ac- 
count the. spaces it has inserted into the line to 
produce word wrap, so the cursor often lands sev- 
eral spaces from its intended location. . 

Although the document being edited does not 
appear on screen as it will on paper, output can be 
redirected to the screen so that the text, headers, 
and footers are displayed as they will be printed. 
Boldface or underlined words appear in inverse 
video, black letters on a bright background. 

Blocks of text are moved by erasing a section 
and storing it in memory; all erased characters are 
stored in a buffer for later recall. You move the 
cursor to the desired point and "unerase" the text. 
Unfortunately, the buffer area is not large, so only 
a small segment of the document can be moved at 
a time. .......... 

A page-formatting menu lets you assign default 
settings, including header and footer values. You 
can change these settings from within the docu- 
ment by embedding a "Dot command": a period 
at the extreme left of a line of text, followed by a 
command code. You can save these formats to 
disk. ,'.■■-■■;;:.:'■.■-_■■ 

■' Also included is WPL, a word-processing lan- 
guage, with which you can create command files 
that allow the program to perform repetitive func- 
tions when unattended. Apple Writer ill supports 
form-letter and mailing-list generation and can be 
used with Apple Speller III, a powerful spelling 
checker. The program also supports such operat- 
ing system functions as time and date set, file re- 
name, screen character set downloading, and 
normal cataloging and deleting of files. 

Apple Writer ill is copy protected and comes with 
both backup and utilities disks, it does a workman- 
like' job with workmanlike tools, and even uses a 



few techniques from the master craftsman's bag of 
tricks. . 

Requirements: Apple III, 128K RAM, disk drive , 
Apple Computer, $275 _.■■.■ 

BANK STREET WRITER 

This is a word processor designed for the home. 
There are no complicated commands, no tricky op- 
eration sequences. In fact, you can start it up and 
use it without even opening the instruction manual. 

Bank Street-Writer is its name. Developed and 
tested by the Bank Street College of Education,, it 
is one of the easiest-to-use word processors avail- 
able. Designed for simple at-home tasks such as 
letters, school assignments, reports, or even short 
stories, it is loaded with conveniences . usually 
foundonly in more powerful programs. ... 

Incorporating such features as word wrap, global 
search and replace, block move and delete, block 
save to disk, centering and indenting of text, pass- 
word protection of files, document chaining, page 
headers and numbering, Bank Street Writer uses 
simple-to-follow, onscreen prompts to make oper- 
ation easy for even the youngest family members. 

The program is crashproof and nearly goofproof. 
You may back out of any option, and even if RESET 
is pressed, both the program and yourfile remain 
intact. Even block deletions may be recalled, 
though only the most recent deletion remains avail- 
able. Upper- and lowercase text 38 columns wide is 
displayed with no additional hardware required. 
The Shift-key modification on Apple lis are also 
supported although no Caps-Lock is available (no 
problem on the Apple lie). '..::: 

Many print options are available, including sepa- 
rate print-draft and print-final modes. Print-final al- 
lows you to set the number of characters per line, 
line spacing, page numbering, and heading as well 
as selection of single-sheet or continuous-form 
paper. A nice feature is the ability to see where 
each page will end prior to printing. If you wish, 
you may adjust the page break up or down and 
print selected parts of the file, the Print-Draft op- 
tion prints the document exactly as. it ..appears on 
screen, 38 columns wide. This is handy for proof- 
reading. . 

In trade for this program's simplicity and relative 
power, the user must accept a few inconveniences. 
One is its right-justification procedure: There isn't 
any. Text must always be printed with a ragged 
right margin. Nor is there any way to indent a para- 



Word Processing 



149 



graph, except by using the Space bar. The most 
serious limitation is dependent on the computer. 
The program is so large that a machine with 48K of 
memory can hold documents no longer than about 
1 ,300 words. Longer texts must be split into several 
files. A 64K computer will hold more than 3,000 
words, however, and the program will even use the 
entire 128K RAM available on an Apple lie. 

Bank Street Writer comes complete with a 
backup disk as well as an excellent interactive tu- 
torial on the reverse of one disk. A utility option 
allows various defaults to be set Among these are 
the number of disk drives, printer slot, page format, 
and printer-control codes. 

Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, il -i- 
or lie, Atari, 488K RAM, disk drive 
Broderbund Software, $69.95 : 

COLOR SCRIPSIT 

While Color Scripsit lacks the sophistication of 
some other Color Computer word processors, but 
it is sufficient for average needs. It sacrificed "bells 
and whistles" for fast, simple operation. 

Like most popular word processors, Color Scrip- 
sit offers a true lowercase display. It does not, how- 
ever, provide alternative screen formats to the 
standard 32-column by 16-line display. This can 
make it somewhat more difficult to edit files of even 
moderate length. A further disadvantage is that the 
text displayed on the screen will not look like the 
text that is printed out, as Color Scripsit files may 
beprinted at up to 132 characters wide. : 

Color Scripsit has all the standard editing func- 
tions: block move, copy, or delete; tab setting; in- 
serting text; delete word, line, or letter; and full 
cursor control. The printing functions are standard 
as well, with the exception of a spool file. This lets 
the user continue writing while other text is being 
sent to the printer. 

A 16K-memory, one-drive Color Computer is suf- 
ficient for Color Scripsit, but it leaves only 1,433 
bytes for text. This is enough for a long letter, but 
not for most other documents. The user can, how- 
ever, turn off the lowercase display option and free 
7,200 bytes. This makes for an unattractive screen 
display, though. A 32K Color Computer allows 
17,81 7 bytes for text. 

The manual is thorough and_ well produced. A 
novice can easily understand it A sample session 
is given to familiarize the user with the program. 

Color Scripsit is the average person's word pro- 



cessor. It is ideal for the student or the home user. 
Professional writers will probably want to opt for 
something with better screen displays and fancier 
printing and editing functions. 
Requirements: TRS-BO Color Computer, 16K RAM- 
disk drive 
Radio Shack, $49.95 :. 

COPYART II 

On word-processing prowess alone, CopyArt II 
could stand up well to its competition. But this pro- 
gram gives the user features not usually expected 
on a word processor: math functions, sorting ca^ 
pability, and high-resolution printer graphics. 

CopyArt II has most of the word processing fea- 
tures found on its competitors: a full complement 
of text-editing functions, flexible text-formatting 
codes tor a wide variety of printers, and a mailing- 
list option with merge capabilities. Text-editing 
commands are accessed by two keystrokes. Print 
commands can be embedded in text, and they in- 
clude underlining, sub- and superscripts, boldface,' 
and italics. CopyArt // can also print multiple col- 
umns. '■••" .■.:■'.■■ 

The user can set up numerical data in rows or 
columns and then add, subtract, multiply, or divide 
the values in a particular column or row — sort of a 
rudimentary spreadsheet The results are given in 
dollars and cents and neatly aligned by the decimal 
point. The sort function sorts lines of data in as- 
cending or descending order. 

CopyArt It's graphics capability is its most out- 
standing feature. Graphics can be incorporated 
within printed text, or the user can create his or her 
own letterheads. Fancy large typefaces are pos- 
sible, too. The program asks for the letter's height, 
width, whether to print them horizontally or verti- 
cally, and whether they are to be reversed (white on 
black).: ■ -■■:■■■'■■■ 

Likely uses for these graphics ; include graphs 
and charts, unique methods of emphasizing text, 
or just putting humorous caricatures in personal 
letters. Of course, the user must have a dot-matrix 
printer, such as an Epson or Okidata, 'capable of 
producing these graphics. : ■■■■■'.■ 

By giving CopyArt //these unusual features, Si- 
mutek gave TRS-80 owners a word processor lim- 
ited only by their imagination. It makes an 
interesting tool for experimenting with printer 
graphics, and it gives the businessman a way to 
dress up correspondence. ■■■■■'. 



150 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



Requirements: TRS-80 Model III or 4, disk drive 
•Simutek Computer Products, $149.95 



CUT & PASTE 

Cut & Paste is a product of the "keep-it-simple" 
school of word processing. It Is not an office-qual- 
ity word processor and was not intended ,to be. It 
is, its excellent documentation claims, "the first 
sensible word processor for the home." At $50, it is 
at least sensibly priced. 

■ Cut & Pastels a two-disk package that includes 
an excellent 14-page instruction manual, a quick 
reference keystroke card, and a set of valuable, 
easy-to-understand onscreen prompts and "help" 
instructions. One of the disks carries Cut & Paste 
itself; the other has some sample documents on it, 
plus some extra. space for a few documents of your 
own. To create another document disk, all you 
Have to do is format a blank disk by calling up the 
main Cut & Paste menu and pressing a couple of 
keys. . '-■■ - ■ .. 

■One unfortunate feature is that Cut & Paste uses 
a nonstandard. disk format Because of this, you 
can't transfer documents from Cut & Paste to other 
word-processing programs, and you can't splice 
alien data into a Cut & Paste document. In addition, 
Cut & Paste documents cannot be transmitted by 
any telecommunications programs now available. 
So Car & Paste is not very versatile. 

It is, however, amazingly easy to use. Once 
you've booted the program disk, all you have to do 
is press the Return key. The program will then pres- 
ent you with a list of the documents on your disk, 
and you can choose one by moving the cursor to it 
with your Arrow keys and typing "ESCape." 

At this point, your cursor moves to a line at the 
bottom of your screen with a short list of com- 
mands that perform various functions — load, save, 
or print a document, for example, or insert or de- 
lete text, or move it either from one file to another 
or within a file. ■■■■'. 

Once your cursor is on the command line, you 
can move it from one command to another with 
your Arrow keys, and you can choose the instruc- 
tion you want to implement by pressing your Es- 
cape key. 

If you use the command line to load a document 
into your computer's memory, the text is automati- 
cally displayed on screen, when Cur & Paste is in 
its editing mode — that is, when there's a document 



on the screen— you can use your Arrow keys to 
move your cursor to any point on your screen. Con- 
trol keys shift it backward or forward one full 
screen, or to the start or end of a document 

To erase a letter using Cut & Paste, you have to 
back up into it using your Backspace key. Blocks 
of text can be deleted, inserted, or moved with an 
ingeniously engineered "cut & paste" function— 
the operation from which the program derives its 
name. : ■■ ■•-.■■ 

The cut-and-paste function can also be used to 
move text from one document to another. When 
you delete text from a document, it is stored in a 
special buffer that remains intact when a new doc- 
ument is loaded into your computer's memory. And 
that means that text can be moved: into the' buffer, 
saved there while a new document is loaded, and 
then loaded into the new document using Control- 
P. . ■;-'.-:.-': : -;"-V..; : /■ ■■'. -.: 

When you've written credited a document, you 
can save or print it using commands on the com- 
mand line. When you: hit the Print command, you'll 
see a menu that you can use to configure Cut & 
Paste to. work with your printer. Cut & Paste can be 
used with a wide variety of printers and interface 
cards, but you should make sure before buying it 
that your combination is supported by the pro- 
gram. ■ .:-:■:■: ;.' :.-..'■.: ■.'■:■■' ■'• 

if Cur & Paste is compatible with your printer, it 
can be configured to work with it in— literal ly— just 
a few seconds. It took about twenty seconds to get 
Cut & Paste to work perfectly with an Epson MX-80 
used for this review. And that is truly remarkable. 
Getting your printer to work properly with some 
word-processing programs can take days. ;■;■;'■, 

This simplicity does have its price; however. 
There are dozens of common word-processing 
jobs that. Cur & Paste cannot do. Some examples: 
Cut & Paste cannot underline text, or print sub- 
scripts or superscripts, or print boldface. And tabs 
stops are fixed in five-space increments; they can- 
not be changed. The program can be set to print 
headers, but except for page numbers no footers 
are allowed. Cur & Paste will not automatically jus- 
tify a document, nor will it automatically center 
lines on a page. And/although the program will 
number pages, it uses just one format — with the 
page number centered at the bottom of the page. 

The Cur & Paste program cannot be used with 
any spelling checker now available, nor with any 
mailing-list program. And, as already pointed out, 



Word Processing 



151 



currently it cannot be used with telecommunica- 
tions software. 

On the plus side, Cut & Paste be the easiest-to- 
learn and easiest-to-use word-processing program 
•on the market. And it is certainly inexpensive. But 
•its capabilities are extremely limited — so if there's 
any possibility that your needs will ever exceed 
them, beware! 

Requirements: Apple He and lie, Commodore 64, 
Atari, IBM PC and PCjr., 64K, disk drive 
Electronic Arts, $50 

EASY SCRIPT 

Easy Script is the "official" word processor for 
the Commodore 64. Created for Commodore by 
Precision Software, a British company, Easy Script 
is very similar to WordPro 3 Plus/64 in design, but 
very different in operation. Like WordPro, it is not a 
"see-what-you-get" word processor, but a charac- 
ter-oriented editor in which the video screen acts 
like a window to the memory where text is stored. 

In addition to Commodore's own printer family, 
Easy Script can be used in conjunction with print- 
ers from Epson, NEC (Spinwriters), Qume, and Dia- 
blo. Printers can be connected to the computer in 
the normal fashion, through the 64's serial periph- 
eral bus, or via the computer's parallel "user port." 
Both Centronics parallel and RS-232 printers are 
supported this way. 

Easy Script displaces BASIC in the 64 when it is 
. loaded from disk, so there's plenty of room left for 
entering text. Slightly over 30K bytes are available, 
the equivalent of about 20 double-spaced manu- 
script pages. This is important, since the program 
works strictly on the text in RAM memory. Longer 
files can be chained together when printed. , 

By design, Easy Script takes advantage. of the 
64's function keys to control its operation. Key 
"F1 ," for instance, acts like a control key to change 
editing modes, and "F4" puts the program into 
"disk mode" to store and retrieve manuscripts. 
Other helpful features include the ability to preview 
the text as it will be printed, and screen width can 
be set between the standard 40 and very wide 240 
characters. Since the 64's screen cannot display 
more than 40 characters on a line, the screen 
scrolls horizontally to see the rest. 

Unfortunately, Easy Script's text files are struc- 
tured in a unique manner. This makes the program 
incompatible with the other leading word proces- 
sors for the 64, even though it is so close or identi- 



cal in many important ways, including many 
formatting commands. Still, Easy Script is all the 
word processor that some people will need, it is 
fast, performs all of the basic editing functions ex- 
actly as advertised and, at the price, is a consider- 
able bargain. 

Requirements: Commodore 64, disk drive 
Precision Software, $225 .. 



EASYWRITER1.1 

The original version of EasyWriter was released 
at about the same time as the IBM PC forwhich it 
was written. It proved to be the only serious blem- 
ish on the otherwise sparkling debut of "Baby 
Blue." it was unarguably bad. 

EasyWriter Version 1.1 is evidence of IBM's de- 
termination to rid itself of the embarrassment 
caused by EasyWriter's shortcomings. It's an excel- 
lent package. 

In the original program, key functions such as 
insert/delete and block-move/copy were slow and 
clumsy. Embedded print commands caused extra 
line feeds that sometimes fouled up the formatting 
routine. Those problems, and most others, have 
been eliminated in the new version. 

The new manual is complete with an easy-to-fol- 
low tutorial near the beginning, a reference and 
clear explanation of commands and menus in the 
middle, and appendices with tips and trouble- 
shooting for advanced users. If you're already fa- 
miliar with the typewriter keyboard, it shouldn't 
take much more than an hour or so to have Easy- 
Writer 1.1 up and running. 

EasyWriter has three command levels: the file 
system, the additional-commands menu, and the 
help menu. Each can be called up with a single 
.keystroke, and the help menu can be left on the 
screen while editing. 

Creating a new document starts from the File 
System. Just hit "E" (for editor) and you have a 
blank screen ready for your text. Calling up an ex- 
isting document for revision or printing is equally 
simple. The save and revise functions are called up 
with single keystrokes, pIus^'Y" in response to the 
failsafe, "ARE YOU SURE?" 

Text can be aligned with or without right justifi- 
cation, but the alignment function is still a bit on 
the slow side. 

The block-move and block-copy routines have 
been thoroughly overhauled and now work quite 



152 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



smoothly. This and most of the other functions 
make good use of the PC's special function keys. 

; Since the perfect program is yet to be written, 
there iare shortcomings. In general, EasyWriter 1.1 
tends to be a bit slow when compared to other 
popular word-processing programs. Also, some 
users may find the limited document size undesir- 
able. Unlike some programs that move text back 
and forth between RAM and disk as needed, 
EasyWriter stores the entire file in RAM. This limits 
file size to 1 4,000 bytes with 64K-memory, or 24,000 
with T28K. In practice, though, this problem need 
not be serious, EasyWriter makes it easy to "link" 
up to 124 existing files on the same disk and print 
them as if they were One; thus the theoretical file- 
size iimlt is not restrictive. . : 

There are faster and more elegant word-process- 
ing programs available, but most are considerably 
more expensive than EasyWriter 7.7. The user who 
does not require the sophistication or speed of the 
higher priced programs should find.. Easy Writer 
quite satisfactory. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive . .;,.■. 
Information Unlimited Software, $175 ,-... 

EASYWRITER II 

EasyWriter II is a page-oriented, full-featured 
word processor It offers a definite alternative to 
programs such as MicroPro's popular WordStar 
package. EasyWriter II takes quite a different ap- 
proach to things. Which you choose is largely .a 
matter of personal preference and requirements. ; 

EasyWriter II mimics a dedicated word proces-. 
sor. It uses the IBM PC's function keys for all spe- 
cial operations — control key sequences are never 
used. This is one of the clear differences between it 
and programs like WordStar. , 

Another is EasyWriter H's use of many editing 
modes. The meaning of the Arrow keys, for exam- 
ple, is modified by the current mode: character, 
word, line, sentence, paragraph, block, or page. 
The modes are set by pressing different function 
keys. This is straightforward and easy to learn but 
quickly grows cumbersome to use. . 
.i One of EasyWriter H's outstanding features is its 
on-screen formatting. What you see is what you, will 
get when your text is printed. In this, it outperforms 
even WordStar. Directly displayed are such things 
as headers and footers, boldface (shown as bright 
characters), and underlining (if you have the mono- 
chrome display adapter.) 



Formatting of paragraphs follows the current 
"ruler." A ruler specif ies left and right margins, tab 
settings, centering, and line spacing. You can store 
up to eight named rulers with each document, and 
you can change rulers from line to line in your doc- 
ument. 

EasyWriter II stores your documents in "file fold- 
ers." A folder can hold many documents, and you 
need an import/export utility to move regular ASCII 
files in and out of folders. This makes for more 
efficient use of disk space, but.it also renders the 
program inconvenient for many purposes. 

A very nice tutorial comes with EasyWriter II. The 
tutorial, is a document, and you simply run Easy- 
Writer II and page through the document, trying 
out features on each page as they are described. 
EasyWriter H's "undo" feature lets you throw away 
changes made during your experiments. This ease- 
of-use carries over into everyday writing with ex- 
tensive, readable on-line help screens. The manual 
is clearly written and well organized. If the empha- 
sis on function keys doesn't bother you, EasyWriter 
II lives up to its name. . 

I US has recently bundled EasyWriter II with their 
EasySpeller II and EasyMailer //packages. Easy- 
Speller ii is niceiy integrated with EasyWriter II; 
you can check the spelling of a word, or an entire 
document, against an 80,000-word dictionary with- 
out leaving the word processor. One major draw- 
back is that you cannot permanently add new 
words to the dictionary. EasyMailer II jets you 
merge information into a boilerplate text and cre- 
ate your own personalized form letters. . 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, one disk drive; 
96K required for advanced features 
Information Unlimited Software, $350 

THE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY 

What would you think of a full-featured word pro- 
cessor that can generate form letters using files 
directly from many popular database programs, in- 
cluding VisiCalc and its own built-in Electronic 
Card File program? Plus, a built-in electronic mail 
feature? .-■'■■'■. 

The Executive Secretary is capable of that and 
more. It incorporates all the features expected of a 
professional word-processing package: global 
search and replace; block moves; character, word, 
and line insert, delete and replace; word wrap; 
embedded printer commands; document preview; 
page headers and numbers; two level indexing; 



Word Processing 



153 



multilevel outline indenting; and two-letter phrase 
abbreviations. You can even use the program to fill 
out blank forms by using simple vertical and hori- 
zontal spacing commands. Input may be from key- 
board entry or document fries. Customized form 
letters may also be produced directly from the key- 
board; a -'blank" is recalled from disk, and you 
merely fill in the blanks by responding to screen 
prompts. 

As is the case in most word processors, work- 
space is limited by available memory and allows 
the user to work on only a few pages of text at a 
time. Handling about 3,000 words at once, The Ex- 
ecutive Secretary has a very powerful feature that 
allows the production of large documents. By 
using the Block-Marker command, portions of text 
may be saved as subfiles to be recalled later using 
a one-line Embedded-Text command. Regular doc- 
ument files may also be merged into the printed 
output by using a similar command. Thus, an entire 
document can be printed by. using nothing but a 
series of these commands. 

■ .The manual states that the program uses stan- 
dard Appie'text files; however, unless these files 
are on a specially formatted disk, they are unreada- 
ble. Furthermore, a "resto re-document" option 
that is supposed to "convert text files to a format 
Executive Secretary recognizes" did not work. ■■■'■ = 

The 80 + -page, easel-bound manual is orga- 
nized into 25 easy-to-follow tutorial lessons. Some 
bugs still exist in the manual. Some of the screen 
formats it shows don't coincide with those of the 
program, one appendix is missing, and such menu 
functions as how to "restore a document" are 
unexplained. Although professionally typeset and 
printed, the type size used in the manual may be 
too small for, easy reading. A comprehensive refer- 
ence card designed to lay above the keyboard is 
also provided. . 

The Electronic Card File is a relatively powerful 
database manager that can be used to organize 
mailing lists or other information that could be kept 
in a card file. An empty disk will hold about 500 
records consisting of 13 lines, or 999 with five .or 
fewer lines per card or record. More than one file 
may be stored on one disk. Easy to use, the files 
may be searched and sorted, printed in one- or 
multiple-line reports with totals and subtotals on 
selected fields. " 

The Electronic Mail System transmits documents 
automatically over a modem to and from other Ap- 



ples and mainframe computers. If a clock/calendar 
card is installed in your system, you may even have 
the transmission occur later. at night, when rates 
are lower. ■ . ■ 

The Executive Secretary has tremendous power 
and potential with many options and capabilities 
too numerous to discuss here. With a little more 
improvement and bug correction, this program 
could be a winner. The interna! card file, DB Mas- 
ter, Data Factory, Information Master, VisiFile, and 
most DIF files are supported for mail-list merging. 
It supports Superterm, Full View 80, Smarterm, 
Videx Videoterm, and Vision 80 boards. Apple lie 
requires no modification and Apple 80-eolumn 
board is supported. Special versions are available 
for Corvus and other hard disks. The Hayes Micro- 
modem and Thunderclock for time/date stamping 
of documents is also supported. . 
Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft : BASIC in 
ROM or Apple II + , 48K RAM, one-wire shift ; key 
modification, lower-case adaptor (for 40 columns) 
•or 80-coiumn board required 
Sof/Sys., $250 

FORMAT II 

Format II is a sophisticated, page-oriented, 
word-processing program that is excellent for one- 
page documents and other short pieces. The 'de- 
signers have put everything possible into Format 
II: logical, easy-to-use editing functions; consistent 
commands that work globally or locally; advanced 
mail-merge capabilities; and highly flexible print- 
ing subsystems. 

Unfortunately, there is a worm in the otherwise 
polished apple: Format // handles only one page at 
a time. For anything longer, you must move the 
current page — up to 80 lines— out of memory (save 
it to disk) and move the new page in. Although you 
can load a series of finished pages to be printed 
consecutively, moving back and forth between dif- 
ferent pages of a document while writing or editing 
is a time-consuming annoyance — especially on 
longer pieces. 

The system's otherwise excellent features should 
not go untrumpeted, however. Format II uses two 
modes, Enter Text and Format Text In the format 
mode, each key triggers a (occasionally farfetched) 
mnemonicaiiy based editing command. For exam- 
ple, pressing "S" (for start) elicits' a one-line 
prompt at the bottom of the screen: "(W)ORD, 
(L)iNE, : (S)ENTEN.CE, (P)ARAGRAPH, (T)EXT, 



154 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



(A)LL" Selecting the letter of your choice moves 
the cursor to the beginning of the appropriate 
place in the text. The same or similar prompts ap- 
pear for deleting, justifying, centering, and numer- 
ous other applications. Transposing is done by 
defining a text block, putting it in a buffer, and 
reinserting it at the cursor. Moving and closing up 
lines, adding line spaces, making new paragraphs, 
underlining, and getting a word count are all simi- 
larly painless, requiring at most two keystrokes. 

Format ll's search-and-replace functions do 
allow you to make immediate, global substitutions 
throughout a multipage document. The system, 
however, doesn't replace with lowercase letters 
any letter that was upppercase to begin with — and 
there's no override that will let it do so. That's usu- 
ally O.K., but if you wanted to replace every men- 
tion of, say, "BASIC," with an upper- and 
lowercase "Basic," Format II wouldn't permit it. 

Other functions, though, are more yielding, and 
there are generally several ways to accomplish any 
procedure. Also handy is the editor's instant refor- 
matting ability. When you insert or delete text, the 
existing copy slides over instantly to accommodate 
the new paragraph structure. 

Format ll's editing abilities are only part of the 
story, however. Its printing subsystem, along with 
all the usual headers, footers, and margin settings, 
allow proportional spacing, so the letter W takes 
more space than the letter /. And its "microspace 
justification" puts extra, tiny spaces between 
words or letters to fill justified lines. The mailing 
system is also powerful, with a buiit-in database 
capable of storing 510 records of up to 16 fields, 
and easy sorting, searching, and editing functions. 
.This and other features are typical. Indeed, so 
chockfu! of goodies is Format II that it takes a full 
55 seconds to load the program into the Apple 
when you boot up. Now if only the programmers 
could have made all this work on more than one 
page at a time. ... 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, 48K RAM, one 
disk drive 
Kensington Microware, $150 

HOMEWORD 

Word processors for the Apple computer range 
from very complex programs intended for the 
professional writer or office to very simple ones 
designed for the occasional letter-writer. Complex 
word processors generally have extensive com- 



mand structures that are difficult to remember un- 
less the program is used regularly, and some 
simple programs don't do very much. 

Homeword is an attempt to give the occasional 
home-user a simpie-to-operate yet relatively so- 
phisticated word processor. By selecting from a 
menu of pictures or "icons," the desired function 
is easily chosen without having to remember com- 
plex commands. 

Complete with most expected word processing 
functions— headers and footers, page numbering, 
centering, justification, find and replace, block 
move and copy — Homeword offers two unique op- 
tions not found on most word processors. 

The indented Point function ailows one to set up 
four levels of indentation to produce outlines or 
lists. You may define the symbol used for each level 
as numbers, upper-and lowercase letters, or a "bul- 
let" symbol such as a period or asterisk. The pro- 
gram automatically keeps track of your numbering 
or lettering sequence and will reset each level 
when instructed to return to the next higher one. 
Totally automatic, it demands only that the user 
indicate in the text the level of indention desired. 

Because Homeword is uncommonly large, only 
four standard-size pages fit in the memory work 
space at any given time. While parts of other files 
may be inserted anywhere in the text, this would 
still prevent production of large documents. How- 
ever, another unique feature, called "include doc- 
ument," lets you specify the names of the other 
files you wish to include in your document. While 
they don't appear on screen in your current file, 
they will all be printed in proper order. Using this 
feature, very large documents may be produced. 

Working with only 40 columns of text on the 
screen, Homeword also displays a miniature for- 
matted page layout in the bottom corner of the 
screen. This helps take the guesswork out of how 
your page will look when printed. You can see cen- 
tered titles, indented blocks, how many paragraphs 
are on each page, and where the page number will 
appear. Also, when the print icon is selected, you 
may "SEE FINAL DOCUMENT" by printing to the 
screen in a 70-coiumn format similar to that of 
Screenwriter II. Both the 40-and 70-column dis- 
plays are in true upper-and lowercase text, gener- 
ated without any additional hardware, though a 
one-wire modification may be made to enable type- 
writer-style use of the Shift key. 

Block moves of phrases or paragraphs are ac- 



Word Processing 



157 



spaces to make room. If the line width does not 
allow enough space to be added, you have to break 
the line into two smaller lines, add the appropriate 
material, and then "glue" the lines to make the text 
run in as it should, if you then decide you want to 
change that insert from single-spaced to double- 
spaced, you have to add space between the lines 
one line at a time. 

Moving blocks of text is equally cumbersome. 
Each line you wish to move must be put in a buffer 
that holds up to 16 lines. Then you move the cursor 
to the appropriate spot and recover the lines, one 
line at a time, from the buffer. The last line put into 
the buffer is the first retrieved, so the order of initial 
entry into the buffer is critical. Since the buffer 
holds only 16 lines, transposing long copy blocks 
is tedious. And if you mistakenly put 17 lines into 
the buffer, the first line input will be permanently 
erased. ; : . ■ 

Various control functions allow you to move the 
cursor to the top or bottom of file; up or down ten 
lines (handy); up or down a line; right or left one 
character; and right or left to user-set tabs. Another 
simple commmand lets you move to any page in 
the file. Search and search-and-replace functions 
are global, though- the justification functions- 
flush left, right, justified, centered, or "packed," 
with excess spaces removed from between words 
— are not. Title lines and page numbers can be 
placed in just about any position at the top or bot- 
tom of a page. ■■■':; 
.: Magic Window II is friendly. It is almost impossi- 
ble to erase a file by accident, if you try to load a 
new file over one that has not been saved, the pro- 
gram warns you and will not act until given the go- 
ahead. To delete, rename, lock, or unlock a file, you 
exit to the DOS-command subsystem. The proce- 
dure is slow but safe. And if you ever find yourself 
lost in one of the menu-driven subsystems, press- 
ing Return enough times will always get you back 
into the editing mode. Such ease of operation even 
carries over to the documentation, which is clearly 
written and well indexed. In fact, if you can't oper- 
ate Magic Window !!> maybe it's time for a refresher 
course in Elementary Household Appliances 101 . 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, one disk drive 
Artsci, $149,95. .■'■,■ 

MEGAWRITER 

This is itl The easy-to-use word processor for 
your Apple that does more for half the price. 



MegaWriter may be the first word processor de- 
signed specifically for the Apple He. 

These are the claims made by MegaWriter. A fea- 
tures comparison chart on the package, called 
''MegaWriter vs. the Competition," compares it, at 
$99.95, with Applewriter at $135 (presumably the 
old Apple Writer 1.1, which is no longer marketed) 
and Apple Writer II at $1 50. Neither takes advan- 
tage of the lie's features. Apple Writer lie at $195 is 
not compared. 

One of the claims made is that MegaWriter "gives 
a full 80-column page with or without an 80-column 
card." What it actually does is show two 40-column 
halves of the 80-column page with Ctrl-A switching 
between then. The bottom line is that an 80-column 
card is highly desirable for ease of operation. 

Originally released as version 1 .0 at $59.95, it was 
updated to version 2.0 to incorporate many cus- 
tomer suggestions. The entire program is now sup- 
plied on a single faster booting disk, and it features 
faster command operations, tabs that can be set, 
micro justification, and DOS file conversion. 

Just what does Mega Writer- have to offer? Well, 
for one thing, it is very easy to use. Menu driven, 
with, all : commands displayed on screen, it has 
some very, powerful features. A full-screen editor 
allows for easy cursor movement and makes inser- 
tion and deletion of text a snap. Onscreen format- 
ting lets you shift text horizontally; left or right 
justify or center text a line at a time or in blocks. 
You may change margin settings and then reform 
the text on screen with a simple command. What 
you see is what you get! 

Blocks of text may be moved or copied, both 
within the current file or to and from files on disk: 
Utilizing markers, selected parts of disk files may 
be merged with the current work file. 

Printing your document is just as easy, with 
many options available. Full control of all margins, 
paragraph indentation, page header and number- 
ing, line spacing and the use of single or continu- 
ous sheets are all selected from a simple Print 
Environment menu. It is here that Mega Writer ex- 
cels;: in conjunction with an ASCII Codes screen, 
you may set up the program to work with your 
printer's special features, such as emphasized or 
double-width characters and even proportional 
spacing. These features are then called up in text 
with simple embedded commands; for example, 
"(e + )" can be made to turn on emphasized print 
and "(e-)" to turn it off. 



158 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



MegaWriter directly supports mail-list merging 
and chaining. Chaining is done with a simple in- 
text command and allows an unlimited number of 
document files to be printed as though they were 
one. Mail merge is accomplished simply by first 
creating a "merge-data document" containing all 
the names, addresses, and other information you 
wish inserted in your form letter. Then a form-letter 
blank is set up showing where each variable is to 
be inserted. Finally the two are run off together to 
produce customized letters. Easy and painless! 

Written in Pascal, the program operates under 
the p-system rather than to Apple DOS but will con- 
vert text files from one system to the other. The 
Apple II one-wire Shift-key modification is sup- 
ported, although the manual says it is not, but low- 
ercase adaptors are not. In the 40-column mode, 
uppercase letters are displayed as inverse video 
characters. An 80-column board must be used to 
obtain true upper- and lowercase characters. The 
manual is unclear, however, as to which 80-column 
cards are supported:' 

The 160-page spiral-bound manual is well written 
in an easy-to-follow tutorial format. A command- 
summary list is included along with three block di- 
agrams showing the command structure. Included 
is a version 2.0 supplement manual, but by the time 
you read this, the current manual should have been 
revised to include the changes it covers. 
Requirements: Apple il, II -t- or lie, 64K RAM, disk 
drive ■ 
Megahaus Corp., $99.95 



MSCRIPT 

MSCRIPT is a low-cost word-processing pro- 
gram that runs on many popular systems. It does 
most of what you'd want a word processor to do, 
without a lot of fuss or complexity. 
- It is a personal word processor, not for someone 
who makes his or her living as a typist. But for 
someone who may want to draft a memo now and 
then and have the secretary clean it up, or edit the 
secretary's work electronically, MSCRIPT is ideal. 

You won't have to use this program daily or even 
weekly to stay proficient. To create text, you tickle 
the keys; to save it, you hit the command key and S 
(for "save") followed by the file name. 

Editing is generally easy, too. You move the cur- 
sor where you want it, and overtype old text. Con- 
trol I lets you insert, control D lets you delete by 



character, and control S (for "subdelete") lets you 
delete by word or line. 

Other important features.include a "heip" screen 
that briefly describes commands, underlining, and 
boldface printing with appropriate printers, user- 
definable printer control codes, user-definable tab 
stops, and status line indicators showing where the 
tabs are and the cursor position expressed numeri- 
cally. '■■■■■■■'•■ 

On the negative side, MSCRIPT won't do some 
things that can be useful. The following aren't sup- 
ported: indication of page breaks before printing; 
mail merge; proportional spacing; automatic verti- 
cal centering; automatic line numbering of docu- 
ments; boilerplate insertion in mid-document; and. 
math operations on numbers in text files. 

Themanual is just fine, although a touch of art 
work amid the text would ease the eyes. It's engag- 
ingly written, by a novelist who has taught word 
processing. The manual is a little brief in places 
(print formatting needs a longer treatment), but it'll 
get you into the program with a minimum of hassle. 
If you still have questions, ; you can expect good 
support from the manufacturer. 
Requirements: TRS-80, Model I, II, III, 4, 12, or 16, 
IBM PC or PCjr.; LNW-80, Lobo Max-80, Epson QX- 
10, Zenith Z-1 00; disk drive, printer 
Micro-Systems Software, $79.95 > 



NEWSCRIPT 

Newscript has everything a person could want in 
a word processor: powerful text-manipulating abil- 
ities, compatibility with nearly any printer, the abil- 
ity to merge addresses with form letters, and one of 
the best print-formatting command sets available. 
The user can also buy other software, including a 
spelling checker, -mailing-labels option, and a 
graphics editor and programmer, to expand News- 
cript 1 s capabilities. :rt 

All this is great news for the professional who 
needs a lot of word-processing power/The com- 
puter hobbyist, however, will probably never use 
Newscript to its full potential, and may be better off 
with a word processor such as Radio Shack's 
Scripsit' : "■■■"■■ ■ 

Newscript comes ready to run — no transferring 
of files to a system disk. The program prompts you 
through the setup procedure. This setup lets the 
user configure the program to his or her equip- 
ment. This is an excellent feature, considering the 



Word Processing 



155 



complished by "painting the text" with the cursor 
and arrow keys. This works fine, but it is somewhat 
slow if you are moving large blocks, It would be 
nicer if the beginning and ending of the block 
could just be indicated with a marker. ■ 

The user must be very cautious of one thing — 
Never hit the Reset key. The program will bomb, 
and a reboot will be necessary with loss of all un- 
saved data. It is too bad that the Reset key cannot 
be trapped with a return to a menu or to your place 
in text as in many other programs. 

In an attempt to simplify home word processing, 
the manufacturer has taken a different approach to 
the documentation. Included is a cassette tape — 
side A for Apple He, side B for Apple II — that leads 
the user through a simple letter-writing tutorial 
with additional instruction on print and disk utili- 
ties and setup. A transcript of the tape is provided 
as a separate pamphlet. Another small manuai, 
called The Homeward Story, is provided as a refer- 
ence to all the program's functions. Produced in a 
picture storybook format, it requires very little 
"computerese" to understand. More experienced 
users will find it lacking in technical information, 
but provided on the program disk are several heip 
files that further explain some of the program's 
functions. Included also is a reference card show- 
ing all the editing and filing commands as well as 
other functions directly accessible from the key- 
board. 

Given its nominal price, Homeward is an excel- 
lent value. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, DOS 3.3; 64K 
RAM, one disk drive 
Sierra On-Line, $49.95 

LeSCRIPT 

LeScript is a well rounded word processor suited 
for a business or home environment It is flexible 
and easy to use without sacrificing important fea- 
tures; 

: Editing commands include block move, insert 
text, a powerful tab, rejustify, split text, and search 
and replace. LeScript has excellent cursor control, 
making it possible to get to the beginning or end of 
a line or body of text with a minimum of keystrokes. 
The user can also underline, italicize, and super- or 
subscript text. 

LeScript can handle virtually any popular brand 
printer. Its printing capabilities are powerful, as 
well. The user has much flexibility in formatting 



text. He can justify right, left, center, or any combi- 
nation thereof. LeScript can take advantage of 
nearly any popular feature on most printers, such 
as emphasized, double-strike, italicized, or double- 
width print; underline; super- and subscript; and 
top-of-form controls. 

Anyone with previous word-processing experi- 
ence can learn LeScript in minutes, while a novice 
will take a little longer. Not only did Anitek cleverly 
design LeScript for ease of use, they also had the 
good sense to provide an excellent manual. 

The manual is well organized. Its thorough table 
of contents doubles as an index. A quick-reference 
function guide in the back is all an experienced 
user needs to learn the system. The writing is con- 
cise and easily understood by the novice. The only 
flaw is that the manual is printed in dot matrix. This 
makes for gray pages (there are no illustrations), 
which are sometimes hard to read. 

The office worker will appreciate LeScript's has- 
sle-free controls and flexibility. The average home 
user might find LeScript more word processor than 
he really needs, '■ but LeScript shines equally 
brightly on routine chores as it does on difficult 
ones. 

Requirements: Radio Shack Model III or 4, one 
disk drive 
Anitek Software Products, $129.95 

MACWRITE 

With word processing, the most popular applica- 
tions software for personal computers, it's no sur- 
prise that Apple Computer introduced its MacWrite 
word-processing package along with its innovative 
Macintosh computer. The $99 program, which 
comes with a MacPaint graphics program on a 3 1 /2- 
inch plastic-encased disk, is a bargain. Like all bar- 
gains, however, there are some shortcomings that 
buyers should be aware of. 
'■■ In its favor^ Mac Write is so simple that its nicely 
documented manuai is almost superfluous. As with 
any program for the Macintosh, the user must gain 
some facility with the machine's mouse, the cursor- 
control device that one rolls about at a side of the 
computer. Moving a cursor to an icon or label to 
choose an action is a lot easier on the mind than 
remembering a variety of keyboard codes, of 
course. However, experienced computerists who 
are also facile typists may at first balk at interrupt- 
ing their typing rhythm. 

To begin MacWrite, you double-click the mouse 



756 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



button on the MacWrite disk icon. A "window" with 
a ruler at the top then appears on the display, with 
various symbols used to format a page displayed 
under it. Solid triangles are used for margins, open 
triangles for tabs, and an arrow for indentation. 
These symbols are moved along the ruler by mov- 
ing the screen pointer to the selected one and, 
holding the mouse button down, dragging the 
choice to a desired location on the screen. 

Other format options available just underneath 
the ruler are spacing (single, double, and triple) 
and justification (left, center, right, and full). Lines 
are formatted and reformatted automatically with 
these options. To format different parts of a docu- 
ment in different ways, just embed another ruler in 
the text. (Rulers can be made visible or invisible on 
the display.) The only problem with this method of 
formatting is that sometimes a simple task such as 
centering a singte line becomes a cumbersome 
job. In this case, a ruler must be placed above and 
below the line with centering selected and then de- 
selected. 

A feature of MacWrite that will impress both be- 
ginners and veterans is the ability to type in differ- 
ent character styles and sizes. The styles available 
are plain, bold, italic, underline, outline, and 
shadow, while font types give the user a wide 
choice of typefaces, such as Old English, Cursive, 
and so on. Size choices range from 9 point to 72 
point. Makes one feel like a typographer. 

MacWrite is always in the insert mode. Two cur- 
sors are used: one is vertical line, and the other has 
the shape of an I-beam. The vertical line shows 
where the next letter will be inserted, while the I- 
beam moves in response to the mouse's move- 
ment A click on the mouse button brings the verti- 
cal line to the I-beam for insertion of text at that 
point. 

An Edit pull-down menu provides easy options 
for manipulating text, such as Cut, Copy, and Paste 
actions. You can usually undo your- last command. 
: MacWrite does have some minor and serious 
shortcomings, depending on the user's applica- 
tions. For example, at this time only the Apple Ima- 
gewriter printer is supported. So if you already 
have a printer or wish to use a formed-character 
printer, you can't do it. The imagewriter itself is an 
impressive dot-matrix machine, however, enabling 
one to print text and graphics with admirable ease. 

Missing in the word-processing system are su- 
perscript, subscript, indexing, split-screen, and 



other niceties that professional book authors nor- 
mally desire. Furthermore, you cannot pause while 
printing output, though the printer can be shut off. 
Additionally, the machine can only handle 10 to 20 
pages of double-spaced typing before it runs out of 
memory. Therefore, one must do a lot of saving 
when typing a long manuscript. As a consequence, 
having a separate, outboard disk drive is an imper- 
ative. At this writing, the additional drive is not 
available. Neither is much available right now in the 
way of other software, though you can be sure that 
innumerable software packages will come online. 
Nonetheless, MacWrite word processing is not yet 
supported with such marvelous options as mail 
sorting and merging, spelling and grammar check- 
ers, and a thesaurus. 

In sum, MacWrite is simple to learn and very easy 
to use. Graphics can be combined with text, as- 
suming use with Apple's Imagewriter printer, and 
combining MacPaint with MacWrite at just $99 
makes it a worthy buy. Actually, you have no choice 
but to buy it at this time if you purchase a Macin- 
tosh computer. 

MacWrite certainly has some invaluable features 
that other word processors do not have— in teg rat- 
ing drawings from MacPamf into a document; vari- 
able type styles, fonts, and sizes, and soon. But for 
those who need a true professional word proces- 
sor, with all the accompanying bells and whistles, 
MacWrite itself is not an appropriate choice. For 
people who do not require the foregoing, perhaps 
wanting a computer for letters and short reports, it 
will do marvetously well for them. . 
Requirements: Apple Macintosh, Apple Imagewri- 
ter printer 
Apple Computer, $99 packaged with MacPaint 

MAGIC WINDOW II 

Magic Window II is a more-than-adequate word- 
processing program for the beginner. It is simple 
to learn; its multiple menus guide you through the 
separate editing, filing, printing, formatting, and 
configuring modes, spelling everything out along 
the way. The control commands in the editing 
mode are similarly uncomplicated, with few multi- 
ple keystrokes required. 

Of course, to make Magic Window 1 1 so elemen- 
tary, the designers had to sacrifice versatility and 
speed. A few examples: There is no insert mode. 
When you want to add new text without typing over 
existing matter, you must first insert enough 



Word Processing 



159 



variety of printers, operating systems, and periph- 
erals a user could have. 

There is almost nothing the user can't do in edit- 
ing text with Newscript. It even includes a 
"whoops" command, which lets the user erase ail 
changes made to a screen, restoring its original 
format Most of the text-editing functions are ac- 
cessed by either two-letter commands preceeded 
by a period; for example, ".ce" to center the next 
line of text, or one-letter commands, such as "C" 
to change text. ••„;• : 

Print formatting is Newscript's forte. In conjunc- 
tion with a. good printer, it can even be used to 
typeset text. (Prosoft typeset Newscript's docu- 
mentation this way.) It can also create forms, for- 
mat letters, or even make a logo or masthead if the 
user has a dot-matrix printer and the graphics edi- 
tor and Programmer option. 

There is a trade-off for all these features: You 
must spend a iot of time familiarizing yourself with 
Newscript, its massive 270-page manual reads like 
a treatise on word processing, and it is very thor- 
ough. The user might never need to read all of it, 
but just getting through the basics is time consum- 
ing. A quick-reference card makes things easier 
once you know enough of the basics to begin using 
the program. 

Newscript is a professional product for profes- 
sionals. It matches features found on word proces- 
sors for more sophisticated machines for much 
less money. Prosoft has also designed the program 
to expand with the needs of the user. Newscript 
may well be too much word processor for the aver- 
age hacker,, but it is a must for the office or small 
business. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Model ill or 4, disk drive 
Prosoft, $124.95 

NEWWORD 

A few minutes with this word processor can leave 
you wondering: "Somebody's already written 
WordStar. Why do it again?" That should come as 
no surprise. NewWord was written by three 
MicroPro alumni. As it turns out, they had several 
good reasons for taking on a seemingly odd proj- 
ect. 

One is economic. The list price of NewWord is 
less than half that of WordStar— \ ess even than 
deep-discount mail-order prices. And the package 
includes a MailMerge~siy\e form-letter generator, 
rather than leaving it as a $250 add-on. 



The designers have also incorporated a couple 
of small improvements that MicroPro forgot: When 
you save a file and wish to continue editing, 
NewWord automatically returns you to your place; 
there's no need for an extra command. Headers 
and footers may occupy up to three lines, not just 
one. And as long as the program is going to keep 
track of the page you're on, NewWord includes a 
Find Page command that automatically moves you 
anywhere in the text— a convenience when you are 
trying.to find your way around a long file. 

Balanced against these benefits is one small dis- 
advantage: To help distinguish text from the menu 
area, which appears at full brightness, NewWord 
displays the text at half intensity. This is tolerable 
on some computers, but many users will find it 
markedly too dim. Fortunately, it affects only 
monochrome versions of the program; the IBM edi- 
tion uses color to subdivide the screen. And the 
folks at Rocky Mountain Software Systems will tell 
you how to patch the program to reverse the set- 
tings, it is not difficult. 

No one wili ever accuse NewWord of being inno- 
vative. But it is certainly a money-saver, and its 
small refinements over WordSta rare likely to prove 
welcome. 

Requirements: CP/M-80, MS-DOS 
Rocky Mountain Software, $249 

PAPERCLIP WORD PROCESSOR 

PaperCHp is the Cadillac of Commodore 64 word 
processors—chock-full of features that make it a 
true professional tool. Though there are nearly 150 
totai commands to the program, you can start 
using it almost immediately, with a minimum of es- 
sential knowledge. 

PaperCHp looks and acts very much like Easy 
Script and WordPro 3 Plus/64. It is not a "see-what- 
you-get" program. And, it is almost totally compat- 
ible with WordPro commands and files and will ac- 
cept files from Easy Script with some modification 
to them. (This compatibility doesn't go in both di- 
rections, however. WordPro will not accept 
PaperCHp files.) 

The nicest feature of PaperCHp is that it will op- 
erate with virtually every printer, since the printer 
commands for such things as underlining, super- 
and subscripts, boldface printing, and tabs are 
contained in separate printer files. You can overlay 
these files at the time of printing, create a custom- 
ized version of the program incorporating the 



760 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



printer file or even make a new file if your printer is 
not among the dozens on the program disk. ■ 

As with Easy Script, you can set column widths 
to be longer than the 40 columns the 64 can dis- 
play. The screen scrolls horizontally. And, to make 
up for the unformatted video display, you can pre- 
view the text as it will be printed on paper. Recent 
' versions of PaperClip actually allow you to see text 
up to 80 columns wide on the screen in this mode. 
This works by redefining the computer's character 
set, making each letter half as wide as normal. 
■■ : ln addition to ailthe standard editing functions, 
PaperClip also offers features rarely seen on word 
processors; It can perform simple addition and 
subtraction on columns of .numbers; sort numeri- 
cal and textual matter, and move columns around 
on the screen. It will also automatically compile an 
index and store it as a separate disk file at the time 
the text is printed. This index file can then be ed- 
ited, formatted, and manipulated like any other 
text; ■■■■■-■■:;■■■, 

Unlike most word processors, PaperClip is pro- 
tected by a "key,'' an electronic security device 
which plugs into one of the Commodore 64's joys- 
tick ports, and will not operate without it. This 
makes it convenient to copy the program onto each 
disk used for word processing, so the program is 
always available. This is just one more feature that 
makes this a "dream machine." 
Requirements: Commodore 64, disk drive ';■""■.■ 
Batteries Included, inc., $90 ■ 

PEACHTREE BUSINESS GRAPHICS 
SYSTEM; PGL 

Peachtree, of course, is one of the country's larg- 
est software producers, so it is not surprising that 
an impressive business graphics package is part of 
its offerings. 

Ten chart types are available, including the stan- 
dard bar, -line, and pie shapes, and also histo- 
grams, scatter charts, critical ratio graphs for 
financial work, single- and double-sided horizontal 
bar charts, and word charts for organization, flow, 
and other presentations. An eight-color CRT is 
used, but full graphical quality is available only 
when the chart is recorded on a' multipen plotter. 
Most popular brands are supported, together with 
several printers. In plotting, you can either print out 
the entire graphics page or single out a window. 
You can also combine several charts on the same 
plot, using a standard layout or creating your own. : 



Zeroing in on the business user, Peachtree has 
simplified data entry by presenting it as an elec- 
tronic "form" to be filled out. Similarly, a label form 
defines the chart's appearance, including any text, 
which can be entered from the keyboard or read 
from an ASCII word processor file. This form also 
sets colors and fill patterns; fonts (seven are avail- 
able), slant, and character size for lettering; Y-axis 
scaling; X-axis positioning; choice of six symbols 
for data points in the line graphs; and so forth. The 
data form also allows entry through the keyboard 
or from a spreadsheet file. ::V v;- -..;■;:■■■ ■■■■■!: ;■'■.■._ 

Several other features also make this -a good 
choice for a graphics system. Among them is the 
file management function, a set of sub-routines off 
the main menu that allows you to do just about 
anything you want with your data files. Another 
plus is the extremely well-written, clearlyorganized 
manual, printed in full color and very attractive. •"•' 
■ ; Peachtree Business Graphics System is written 
in PGL — Peachtree Graphics Language, a proprie- 
tary form of assembly language. PGL does every- 
thing that the Business Graphics System does,; but 
with more sophistication. But while BGS is a menu- 
driven program that allows inexperienced users to 
create charts and graphs, PGL is designed for 
those who want to write their own graphics pro- 
grams. PGL wilhwork with virtually any cursor-ad- 
dressable color CRT or plotter and will accept 
input from 'a light pen, graphics tablet, and other 
devices as well as a keyboard. PGL is extremely 
flexible, both in the images it will create and in its 
ability to use various data files. " 
Requirements: Peachtree Business Graphics Sys- 
tem— IBM PC; 160K RAM; color graphics board, 
one disk drive; Zenith Z100 series; Osborne; PGL-— 
CP/M, 48K RAM; MS-DOS, 128K RAM; one disk 
drive 

Peachtree Software, IBM, and Zenith, $295;' Os- 
borne, $125 •••■••'■••'- ■■■■■■'■■ ■ ■ 



PERSONAL WORDPERFECT 

Personal WordPerfect is a budget-priced version 
of the original WordPerfect: The publishers have 
done an excellent job of retaining most of the im- 
portant features of the original at a savings of $300 
in list price. Missing from the new version are such 
advanced features as centering a page from top to 
bottom, double-underline, automatic block-move, 
and a built-in dictionary. What's left, though, is a 



Word Processing 



161 



nice word-processing package that should fill the 
needs of all but the most advanced users. . 

The program is furnished in two versions, a stan- 
dard version and one that the publisher calls Flash. 
The latter is a high-speed version for use with the 
IBM monochrome display. And fast it is. The stan- 
dard version must be used with a color monitor and 
is a bit slower; in fact, even the manufacturer notes 
its screen updating as being only a third as fast. ; 

The ability to alter formats, an important feature 
for most word-processor users, is well supported 
in Personal WordPerfect. Spacing between lines, 
margins, and tabs can all be changed at any point. 
Page length can be set up to 108 lines, and bold- 
face, underline, subscript, and superscript are ail 
•provided.-' :;. : ; -■.;■, -.."■;■ : >■.■ 

A number of printers are being supported, and 
the program offers enough flexibility through its 
embedded print codes to access the features of 
most of the popular printers available. . 

Despite a few omissions in the setup procedures, 
the manual is nicely done in a -spiral binder that 
conveniently lies flat in use. This makes it even eas- 
ier to learn a program that already is simpleto use. 
'.• .-..Considering -v;its- reasonable price, Personal 
WordPerfect is among the better buys in word-pro- 
cessing packages. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 12BK RAM, two disk drives 
Satellite Software International, $195 



PFS:WRITE 

This is a moderately powerful word processor. 
Like the other programs in the pfs series, pfs:write 
is a solidly designed program with all the funda- 
mental features; it is extremely simple to learn and 
use and works -with its . cousins, pfstgraph, 
pfs:report, and pfsiiie. ■ ■■ : -:- -,■:■::.'■' 
: pfs:write is designed for the novice or occasional 
user. It therefore relies heavily on menus and, in 
the IBM version, onthe function keys. The main 
menu offers six choices: type/edit, page definition, 
print, get/save/remove, dear, and exit. All the stan- 
dard functions are available and most are conve- 
nient. One exception: Commands for underlines 
and boldfacing must be repeated for every letter, 
not just at the ends of the area they affect. . : 
. There are a few advanced extensions. Unedited 
ASCII codes may be sent directly to the printer. 
Files may be sent to disk in standard ASCII format 
rather than to the printer with special embedded 



characters. And there is an interesting envelope 
function that automatically takes the address from- 
a letter and prints it in the correct position for a 
business envelope. But there are none of the fea- 
tures found in sophisticated word processors— no 
right justification, no super- or subscripts, none of 
the extraordinary formatting of some programs. 
-For many people who use micros for word pro- 
cessing, this is an excellent program. It is reliable, 
easy to use, has all the basic functions, and is rea- 
sonably priced, it may not satisfy full-time writers 
or typists; its reliance on menus and other limita- 
tions make it slower than many other word proces- 
sors for.someone who spends enough time at the 
keyboard to become expert with a more elaborate 
program. For most others, it is definitely worth a 

look. 

Requirements: Apple lie, 64K RAM; IBM PC, 128K 

RAM; one disk drive 

Software Publishing Corp., $140 • ';.:-.:-..-.■;; 



PIE WRITER 

- A well-known word-processing system on 8-bit 
machines, PIE Writer has been adapted for the 16- 
bit market, particularly the IBM PC. Text entry, ed- 
iting, and printing are separated into individual 
programs; novices, particularly, are likely to find 
this considerably more complex than programs 
that operate in a single stage. However, PIE Writer 
has many strong features and options. 

During text entry, a ieft-hand diamond pattern of 
control keys is used for cursor control, even with 
the IBM PC's extensive keyboard. Formatting in- 
structions are manually entered on a separate line 
from the text that they control. Dot commands gov- 
ern underlining, boldface, centering, and so on; on 
some machines, the function keys will enter spe- 
cific control characters. Other capabilities include 
headers and footers, global search and replace, 
and a split screen for editing or merging two docu- 
ments. Once text has been entered, you invoke the 
formatter, which displays the text on the screen as: 
it will print out; Making changes requires going 
back to edit mode.- •;•-'-. ■:;: . 

PIE Writer offers most of the functions you might 
want, but they do not make up for the complexity, 
of operation compared with word processors. Par- 
ticulary if' you have a 16-bit machine. with many 
function keys, you would be well advised to check 
other programs. : : ;. 



162 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



Requirements: Apple II, II + , lie, or til; Atari; Com- 
modore PET; IBM PC; TRS-80, Model ill or 4; one 
disk drive • ■'■':■■ .-.' " 

Hayden Software, $49.95 

PMATE 

If you do a lot of programming, as opposed to 
writing, the features you need in an editor are quite 
different from those you would look for in a word 
processor. PMATE is a full-screen text editor that 
gives programmers more features than most could 
ever dream of . . .more than 100 commands, 30 nu- 
meric arguments, ten text buffers, horizontal 
scrolling, and a complete macro programming lan- 
guage with logical and numeric operators, flow 
control, and even error tracing.. 

A configuration program allows you to define 
any key you want for any command. In addition, 
when working with the editor, whatever parameters 
or macros you- have set up for the job at hand can 
be saved on disk at any time, to be used again at a 
later date. 

Two cursors are used, one on the command line 
in addition to the usuai one in the text area. The 
text area is always visible and active, even in com- 
mand mode, so you always see what is happening 
to your text as it occurs. 

As an editor, PMATE is one of the fastest around 
and surprisingly easy to use, even for beginners. 
But for serious programmers who take the time to 
learn how to use its advanced features, it can be a 
powerful text-processing tool that takes much of 
the tedium out of those long sessions at the termi- 
nal. ■■'':■.'■■■" 

Requirements: CP/M-80, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS; 
24K RAM; disk drive 

Lifeboat Associates, CP/M-80 version $195; CP/M- 
86 and MS-DOS versions $225 -r 

PORTWARE 

Portware is an integrated portfolio-management 
package that handles all the standard accounting 
functions while generating analysis and perfor- 
mance reports. Portware's four modules work to- 
gether to break down each security in your 
portfolio into a collection of isolated statistics, sim- 
plifying the decision whether to buy, hold, or sell. 

The package relies on the Portcom module to 
collect quotes, 15 minutes delayed, from the Dow 
Jones network. These data are used by the other 
three parts of the program: Portrac, a fairly 



straightforward accounting module; Portrate, 
which perfoms statistical analysis; and Portrend, 
which monitors market performance. . 

The program can generate on reports that in- 
clude risk, percentage yield, price-to-earning ra- 
tios, and many other categories. Within Portrate, 
the Income Forecaster uses the most current data 
to predict expected profits for your entire portfolio 
and the individual securities within it. Portrate, 
which focuses on overall trends, can be particu- 
larly helpful in highlighting subtle changes in the 
val ues of your holdings^ 

Portware generates a useful sampling of statisti- 
cal reports, and its manual is clear and gives nu- 
merous examples, Of course, the decision to buy 
or sell a security is still left up to your discretion, 
. but Portware makes that decision less mysterious. 
Requirements: Apple II, He or III, 48K RAM, one 
disk drive 
Portware, $450 " ; 

POWERDRIVER 

Radio Shack's Superscripsit is a full-featured 
and popular word processor that in theory will 
make your printer perform all sorts of useful and 
interesting things. Unfortunately, to get the use of 
these features, you must use a Radio Shack 
printer; the Shack doesn't provide drivers for any 
others. The PowerDRIVERS offered by Powersoft 
fill this need. Versions are available for the Epson 
series, the Prowriter 8510, and the C. Itoh Starwri- 
ters and Printmasters. 

The exact features of the driver vary with the 
printer selected. The Epson FX80/CTL provides a 
variety of pitch sizes and proportional spacing, line 
spacing up to 3.5 lines, underlining and double un- 
derlining, boldface and overstrike, and superscript 
and subscripts. The .version for the Itoh Prowriter 
provides substantially the same features. Note that 
proportionally spaced printing does not support 
boldface or overstrike. Proportional printing auto- 
matically uses the doublestrike mode of the Epson 
as the norma! print for that mode. 

All features claimed for the drivers worked reli- 
ably and just as claimed. The main difference be- 
tween the two versions tested was the speed of 
proportional printing. It took 2:07 minutes to print 
a two-page text on the. ProWriter, 4:26 on an 
EPSON FX-80. . 

Also on the diskette is a utility written by Renato 
Reyes and called DISKICTL When used in place of 



Word Processing 



163 



your normal print driver, it allows printing format- 
ted copy to disk rather than to a printer. While it 
was written to facilitate using Superscripsit to pre- 
pare files for subsequent uploading to bulletin 
board systems, it may also be used to save format- 
ted text to disk, which may then be printed out with 
the normal command for printing a diskfile, for ex- 
ample, in TRSDOS 1.3, List fiiename/ext (ASCII, 
PRT), or in LDOS, List fiiename/ext (p). - : . : . 

If .you use Superscripsit with anyof the non- 
Radio Shack printers supported by this series, the 
PowerDRIVERs will probably give you a big im- 
provement in versatility over using the Radio Shack 
driver nearest your printer's characteristics. . 
Requirements: TRS-80, Model I, Hi, 4 and Super- 
scripsit, 48K RAM, one disk drive, printer. - ; 
Powersoft, $29.95 .;: ; 



POWERSCRIPT 

Radio Shack's popular Scripsit word processing 
lacks a couple of features that are very handy to 
have. PowerScript adds them: the ability to obtain 
a directory of any on-line diskette, and to load, 
chain, or kill the displayed files; and the ability to 
embed printer codes within the text that will shift 
your printer's mode as desired and perform other 
needed printer functions. , 

: There is one. peculiarity that potential buyers 
should be aware of. The Scripsit version that must 
be used in all cases, whether for Mod I or Mod III, is 
the Mode! I Scripsit/ LC; and it must be an unmodi- 
fied copy of the program. However, the program 
will work with a variety of operating systems, in- 
cluding DOSPLUS ; 3.4, LDOS, NEWDOS-80, and 
TRSDOS. 

Printers supported include the Gemini, MX-80, 
MX-80 with Graftrax, MX-80 with Graftrax + , FX-80, 
the TEK/NEC8023/C. Itoh, and ;the. DMP-2100. 
Printer control codes are stored in tables, and 
other tables may be made up as needed. ' v 

To send a command to your printer, the first step 
is a Control P. Then, for example, a Control E will 
cause a graphics character and the E to be dis- 
played in your text where the cursor was located at 
the time of command entry. All text after that would 
be Emphasized for. an FX-80 printer. Repeating the 
command later in the text turns the emphasized 
printing off again. Other commands control the use 
of 10-or 12-pitch printing, double width print, con- 
densed print, double strike, emphasized print, ital- 



ics, proportional . spaced print, superscript, 
subscript, and underlining. - 

Printer output can be caused to pause for input 
from the keyboard, forms alignment, or changing 
print heads or wheels. 

Another new feature is the ability to chain docu- 
ments at print time. Scripsit documents must fit 
into memory, and so this feature will allow printing 
of documents that effectively are longer than mem- 
ory limits. ..;...;■■.■■■;■■■ 

You also may mark a block of text for saving to 
disk as a separate file. However, if you do not spec- 
ify a filename, the program will use the last one 
loaded or saved and overwrite it with the desig- 
nated block. 

As a nice touch, a Help file contains information 
on the basic features of Scripsit as well as on the 
mods added by PowerScript. The documentation is 
reasonably clear and comprehensive. Appendices 
contain printer control code tables and several 
other helpful tables. 

The features offered are easy to use and valu- 
able. For a $40 investment they turn a word proces- 
sor priced originally at less than $100 into one 
worth several hundred. It seems well worth the 
cost. .' 

Requirements: TRS-80, Model I, III, or 4 in emula- 
tion mode, or Lobo MAX-80 + Scripsit; 32K RAM, 
onediskdrive ,.:■■:■: . 
Powersoft, $39.95 

POWERTEXT 

PowerText! And indeed it is. Perhaps the most 
powerful word-processing package available for 
the Apple, it is not intended for the occasional at- 
home letter writer. 

What you see is NOT what you get with this pro- 
gram. At least not quite. Rather it take's a different 
and unique approach to the subject of word pro- 
cessing. It allows the user to store formats for vir- 
tually any type of document used, fetters, memos, 
scripts, or whatever. Then, instead of having to be 
concerned with margins, page format, tabs, head- 
ers, and so on, the typist merely indicates which 
format to use and proceeds to input the text along 
with simple formatting commands. The result? A 
perfectly formatted document, automatically. 

For example, ; '7:letter" calls up a standard busi- 
ness-letter format; "/date." "/subject," "/sal" (for 
salutation), and "/closing" all cause the appropri- 
ate information to appear in the letter in the correct 



164 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



place. Included with PowerText are six format files: 
Document, for reports and proposals; Letter, for 
standard business letters; Memo, for interoffice 
memos; Personal, for personal letters; Standard, a 
blank page; and Landscape, for a 132-column wide 
page. Text may be "boxed" with a simple com- 
mand, thus enabling complex reports containing 
vertical and horizontal lines to be produced effort- 
lessly. An additional module called PowerScript al- 
lows the production of screenplays with a 
minimum of effort. 

PowerText incorporates a very powerful disk- 
based text editor. File size is limited only by disk 
space, with backups automatically maintained. All 
of the expected functions are there: search and 
replace, both forward and backward; change, de- 
lete and move text; block moves both within your 
file and to or from a disk file; automatic word wrap; 
type-ahead buffer; and soon. A "paint mode" al- 
lows the cursor to move vertically and h orizontally 
to create boxes, charts, or make entering columns 
of numbers easy. Nested editing up to six files deep 
allows you to suspend the current file, look at and 
edit another, and retrieve data to be placed in the 
first file. On the IBM PC, up to eight user-defined 
functions can be assigned to the computer's func- 
tion keys. 

Written in Pascal, PowerText uses a horizontally 
split screen to display 80 columns on 40-column 
Apples, 40 at a time with Ctrl-A shifting between 
halves. A lowercase chip may be used with 40-coi- 
umn Apple lis, as may the Shift-key mode. Even 
more desirable is an 80-column board, most of 
which is supported in the Pascal environment. Nat- 
urally, the IBM version displays all 80 columns. : - 

Other features include automatic indenting of 
outlines to nine levels using numbers, letters, and 
Roman numerals; subscripts, superscripts, bold- 
face printing, wide printing, underlining, and auto- 
matic pagination. Complete tables of contents may 
also be produced. An include command allows the 
production of very large documents by printing ex- 
ternal files from within the current one. And a built- 
in spooler makes it possible to print out one docu- 
ment while editing another. On an IBM PC with 
320K RAM or more, part of the memory can be set 
aside for use as a disk emulator, and the program 
loaded into it, making operation much faster. 

Text can be reviewed on the screen, printed, sent 
to a disk-file, or transmitted over phone lines. A file 
utility provides 18 functions, including backup and 



formatting of disks, moving files, changing file 

names, and listing directories. You can even check 
for bad disk blocks and sometimes repair them. 

The user manual consists of over 250 pages in a 
large looseleaf binder. With ten tutorial lessons 
plus reference sections, every aspect of the system 
is weii covered. Also provided are several sample 
documents, showing typed text compared with the 
formatted document. 

On the market since 1981, PowerText has under- 
gone several revisions with more still in the works. 
New revisions are available to registered owners at 
a nominal fee. The program comes on unprotected 
disks with a five-year warranty against perfor- 
mance failure. The company provides full direct 
customer support. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , lie or Apple III, IBM 
PC, 64K RAM, two disk drives and printer. Pascal 
required for Pascal versions Beaman Porter, Apple 
li runtime version $299; with PowerCase chip and 
solderless Shift-key mode $329.95; Apple II and III 
Pascal versions $199; manual alone $25 



PROOFWRITER 

Image Processing Systems is the name of the 
company that wrote this word processing package, 
but it much more accurately defines the special 
power that marks this otherwise simply competent 
program. This is the ability to create totally new 
characters, symbols, or whatever and store them 
for printing in a document. 

Proof writer, you see, lets you address each pin 
on matrix printer's head, thereby actually con- 
structing an image and assigning that image to 
"@A," "@B," or "@Any~letter." This is particularly 
useful in scientific and technical documents, but 
the possibilities are endless. Foreign language, 
even Chinese characters, can be constructed and 
used freely. 

Even beyond this remarkable ability, Proofwriter 
ranks high. All the standard editing commands are 
available, including search and replace and block 
copy, move, and insert. These are implemented by 
single keystrokes mnemonically tied to the func- 
tion; F, for example, is used to Find a string. A nice 
feature allows you to store a phrase for retrieval by 
hitting the IBM's function keys F3 through F7, five 
phrases inserted at the press of a single key. An- 
other convenience is that Proofwriter prints sub- 
and superscripts on normal printers by sending out 



Word Processing 



165 



half-line signals. A modifiable spelling dictionary is 
also included. 

Though Proofwriter shines on paper, it does 
have one limitation: The formatting program works 
only during the print process. You must wait until it 
comes time to print before seeing your results. 
?.. In summary, Proofwriter is a very good, full-func- 
tioned word processing program. It has some nice 
editing features, and its dot-addressable graphics 
will appeal to anyone who must use foreign alpha- 
bets, mathematical symbols, or pictures embedded 
in their text. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
Image Processing Systems, $195 

QUICK BROWN FOX 

Quick Brown Fox was one of the first mini-word 
processors and remains one of the most popular. It 
offers the rudimentary functions needed to write, 
edit, and print out text. 

...Unlike most word processors, which allow ac- 
cess to all functions while the text is displayed, 
QBF forces the user to select activities from a main 
menu. These functions are: B.View, to read boiler- 
plate text stored on tape or disk; G. Edit and LEdit, 
for global and line editing; Move, to transfer text 
from one place to another; Delete, to remove text; 
Zap, to clear memory; Send and Receive, to trans- 
mit text over a telephone line using a modem; and 
Clerk, which takes care of loading and storing tape 
and disk files and directories. 

•Since, the program is on a cartridge, approxi- 
mately 38,000 characters of the 64's RAM memory 
is available for storing text. This means that about 
25 pages of double-spaced manuscript can be in 
the machine at any time. 

; Among QBF's better points is its use of word 
wrapping; it does not break words at the end of a 
line on the screen. But the overall awkwardness of 
this program makes it nearly useless. Not only must 
you switch from one mode to another to enter and 
edit text, but lines actually appear in reverse order 
in the UEdit mode when scrolling through material 
already written. Like this: 

"over the lazy dog. 

The Quick Brown Fox jumped" 

Confusing? Of course. Another less important 
objection is the documentation provided, which 
goes more for a cute and clever style than actually 



describing how QBF operates and the differences 
between versions for various computers. 

Finally, very few word processors will work with 
every brand of printer, and QBF is no exception. So 
if you're interested in this one, it is probably a wise 
idea to check with your dealer to make certain 
yours will. : 

In all, QBF may serve some users' purposes, as 
long as they do not demand much from a word 
processor or rely on it professionally. 
Requirements: Commodore 64, VIC-20, IBM PC; 
one disk drive 

Quick Brown Fox, ViC-20, IBM PC and Commodore 
64 cartridges $65 



QWERTY 

There are hundreds of word processing pro- 
grams available, and all claim to have special ben- 
efits. Qwerty's claim to fame is that it Is "designed 
for both the professional typist and the non-profes- 
sional." 

Indeed, Qwerty has several typewriter-like char- 
acteristics. The cursor, here called the "typehead," 
rests at the bottom of the screen and lines of- text 
move up, just like paper in typewriter. There is even 
a "typewriter" mode, which omits many functions 
to give typists an easier transition to the computer. 

Like a typewriter, Qwerty is easy to use, signifi- 
cantly so. It lacks such sophisticated features as 
column formatting and automatic footers and 
headers, but it has complete editing functions: full 
on-screen attributes like underline and bold face 
which can be added after the text has been cre- 
ated, search and replace in either direction, and 
continuous paragraph reformatting. Users accus- 
tomed to secretarial work will appreciate other fea- 
tures like widow-line control, multiple rulers 
controlling margins, tab stops and indents, and 
generous status information continually displayed. 
One quirk is that text positioned using tab stops 
remain there even if you delete words before it on 
the same line. 

In all, this is a good word processing package 
with well-designed implementation of standard 
functions. It may not be bursting with exotic capa- 
bilities, but It should make most people who now 
use typewriters happy. It is not cheap, however, 
and those accustomed to word processing or with 
special needs may find a less friendly but more 
powerful program suits them better. 



166 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, one disk drive 
HFK Software, $395 



SCREENWRITER II 

"A Professional Word Processing System For 
Apple Computers," or so it is stated on the cover of 
the Screenwriter II manual. Whether it is really 
"professional" could be debated extensively. It is, 
however, a very powerful word processor that con- 
tains many more features than most people would 
ever use. 

In its original form, first known as Superscribe 
and later as Screenwriter, the program had some 
very innovative features but was lacking many 
other things. Not the least was an easy-to-under- 
stand manual. 

In this latest version, many improvements have 
been made, the most obvious of which is the man- 
ual. Overwhelming at 321 pages, it used to be a 
nightmare to use and understand, requiring the 
reader to play a game of hide-and-seek to find all 
the references to a particular command or func- 
tion. The new manual sports index tabs separating 
major sections, with a complete table of contents 
at the front and section contents at the beginning 
of each major division. At the back of the manual 
are a complete index and an embedded-command 
index. 

The main part of the manual is divided into three 
sections: "The Mini-Writer," "The Creative Writer," 
and "The Compfeat Writer." The first section has 
been completely redone as a tutorial, with colors, 
many, illustrations, and screen layouts to make it 
easy for the user to become familiar with the most 
necessary and often-used commands. Once having 
mastered this section, the user will be able to use 
Screenwriter II productively. The other two sec- 
tions deal with successively more advanced fea- 
tures, which may be learned as proficiency is 
increased. 

Designed to operate on an Apple II, II + , or lie, it 
provides the user with the option of using 40 or 70 
columns on screen with no extra hardware, and 80 
columns on a Me equipped with an 80-column card. 
If you have 64K of memory, the program will load 
both the editor and runoff modules together; oth- 
erwise they are loaded separately when you switch 
between editor and runoff. The time taken to load 
Screenwriter II has been vastly improved. The 
older version seemed to take forever to load, while 



now the entire program loads in less than 10 sec- 
onds. 

Screen editing is accomplished through the use 
of many Control commands and Shift-control for 
the reverse function. Control-A, for example, 
moves the cursor down, while Shift-Control~A 
moves it up. Apple II and II + users really must have 
the one-wire, shift-key modification, or cursor 
movement is very cumbersome. To move the cur- 
sor up requires an ESC/Control-A sequence for 
each line of cursor movement. An alternative 
method of cursor positioning is to select the mouse 
option, which allows the use of a joystick for cursor 
moves. Use of the mouse precludes the use of print 
spooling, which allows the printing of one file 
while editing another. If your system has a large 
capacity print, buffer then spooling may not be of 
benefit. 

Many word processors use only available mem- 
ory as the work space, so that on a 64K machine 
from four to ten single-spaced pages may be edited 
at one time. Screenwriter II uses what is known as 
"disk virtual memory": When files become too 
large to fit completely in memory, portions are 
saved in various places on disk. This sometimes 
produces disastrous results if the warnings in the 
manual are not strictly adhered to. While you are 
advised to keep your files small and append them if 
necessary, Screenwriter II does allow the produc- 
tion of very large and complex documents. 

Among some of its advanced features are the 
production of up to four true page-oriented in- 
dexes, alphabetized if desired or printed in a table 
of contents format, automatic or manual hyphena- 
tion, footnotes, page numbering, page titles and 
form letters. Block moves, search and replace, and 
the ability to edit BASIC and text files are additional 
features. , ■■ 

Form letters are prepared using token characters 
at each place a variable is to appear; a separate 
address file contains the information that changes 
between letters. Runoff combines the form letter 
with the address file to produce letters that look 
individually prepared. The same address file may 
also be used to prepare mailing lists and labels. 

A set of four command charts is included, two for 
the Apple II/II+ and two for the lie. One card for the 
"Mini-Writer" contains just enough to get you 
started, while the other is a complete reference 
card with almost all of the editor, runoff, and 
embedded page-layout commands shown in an 



Word Processing 



167 



easy-to-read format. The embedded-command for- 
mat is similar to many other word processors: A 
period in the left margin signals the. command, fol- 
lowed by two letters to indicate the function— 
".LM". is left margin, ".BM" is bottom margin, 
".AH" is auto-hyphenation, and so forth. 

Screenwriter II interfaces with virtually any 
printer on the market and supports underlining, 
boldface and incremental justification of text. 

This is still one of the best bargains available in 
word processors today. 

Requirements: Apple H, II + , or lie, 48K RAM, one. 
disk drive 
Sierra On-Line, $129.95 

SKIWRITER II 

The market for inexpensive word processors is 
enormous. There are several million home comput- 
ers just waiting :f or the right word processor, and 
several new programs are announced each week. 

Jumping into the middle of this fray is Prentice- 
Hall, the well-known book publisher with SkiWriter 
//. The original SkiWriter was created by Ken Skier 
for Epson's HX-20 lap-size portable and has earned 
an excellent reputation. Skier and Prentice-Hall 
have outdone themselves on this new version for 
the Commodore. 64, promised also for a variety of 
home systems. SWII is not only a ROM cartridge- 
based word processor, it also turns the C-64 into a 
"smart" terminal. Prentice-Hall calls their product 
"a communicating word processor." 

Installing SkiWriter II is easy. Just plug a small 
cartridge into the slot on the back of the computer. 
Place the plastic keyboard overlay on the key- 
board, and power up the system. SWII's main menu 
appears on the screen. 

Unlike most word processing software, SkiWriter 
has no embedded control keys. All operations are 
accomplished with a combination of the numeric 
keys and the "Commodore" key. The function keys 
on the sideof the keyboard are relabeled "Cancel," 
"Execute," "Previous Screen," and "Next Screen." 
All operations are selected either from the menu 
(tapping the space bar moves the entire menu up 
and down; when the arrow points to the selection 
you want, hitting the "Execute" key selects it) or 
one of the "Commodore" number key combina- 
tions. 

SkiWriter will store documents on either tape or 
disk, and contains utilities that bypass Commo- 
dore's cumbersome operating system. It will work 



without either, but leaves you with no way to store 
your document when completed. 

For more advanced users, SWII's user-definable 
dot-commands allow you to send any ASCII code 
to your printer. This enables you to take advantage 
of any features your printer might offer— bold 
printing, overstrike, alternative fonts, or whatever. 

SkiWriter's major limitations are those of the 
hardware it runs on. The C-64's keyboard is no 
one's choice for word processing. Also, SWII's text 
file length is limited to available memory, 28,000 
characters. This is approximately 30 or so pages of 
text. Longer documents must be split into two or 
more files. .-•■.■■ 

SWWr/fer would be a good, basic word processor 
at five times its price. It is extraordinarily easy to 
use, and does force you to cope with separate 
modes for text entry and editing, as do many low- 
cost packages. That it provides this ease and com- 
munications features at the price makes SkiWriter 
an outstanding value. ■ ■ = 
Requirements: Commodore 64 
Prentice-Hall, $69.95 '::, .■ v.;;.- .' 

SPELLBINDER 

Word processing programs, like any programs, 
should be evaluated in a number of areas— func- 
tion, ease of learning, documentation, etc. A strong 
and balanced program is almost always preferable- 
to one with a single dominating feature but spotty 
in the rest. 

Spellbinder is an exception. The print formatting 
capabilities of this program are so incredible they 
are almost ludicrous. You wilt want to run out and 
buy the most expensive typographic printer just to 
try some of them, if you want multiple-line foot- 
notes called by superscripts nested within sub- 
scripts perfectly centered- and proportionally 
spaced, all invoked by a macro, you might as well 
look no further. 

Many of Spellbinder's capabilities grow from its 
proportional spacing. With a user-defined space 
table, you can specify exact widths for each char- 
acter. There is a user-defined letter table to accom-. 
odate non-ASCII printwheel characters. Centering 
lines maintains true proportional spacing. Other 
printer control features include variable line spac- 
ing up to 1 /4 inch, negative line feeds, ribbon color 
change, reverse enhanced print and nestable 
scripts. Many of these functions are beyond the 
reach of even precision printers and can only be 



768 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



utilized on typographic such as Sanders. Learning 
to use these facilities takes time, as one might 
imagine, but the implementation is, considering 
the. complexity, fairly straightforward. Naturally, 
this is not for the novice. 

Spellbinder has other strengths as well. Macro 
facilities are powerful enought to run simple appli- 
cations; search facilities replace, delete, or add 
with or without case sensitivity; and there.are arith- 
metic capabilities on both rows and columns. Doc- 
ument merging is above average, and Spellbinder 
comes with several macros that merge shell letters, 
boilerplates, and even a fill-in-the-blanks which, 
the manual says, can be used for order entry/in- 
.voicing. Add to ail this the more standard word 
processing features— full cursor movement, block 
insertion, and flexible hyphenation. - 

The manual that comes with Spellbinder, unfor- 
tunately, is not of the same caliber as the program 
itself. Many of the explanations are vague, and 
there is a woeful lack of examples. Phone 1 assis- 
tance is very helpful though. Chances are that if 
you take advantage of the keyboard customiza- 
tions or attempt some of the more complex format- 
ting with a nonspecified printer (Spellbinder gives 
you the code) you may be calling them. ■ 

This is an expensive word processing package 
offering typeset-quaiity output. It takes time and a 
lot of practice. However, few, if any, other pro- 
grams can match Spellbinder in producing profes- 
sional copy. 

Requirements: CP/M, MS-DOS, CP/M-86; 64K RAM 
Lexisoft, $495 

suPERscRipsrr 

Scripsit has been the word-processing work- 
horse for many a TRS-80 owner. It doesn't have all 
the fancy features that some other word proces- 
sors have, but nothing beats it for turning out text 
quickly. 

Radio Shack decided that they needed their own 
high-powered word processor, and they created 
Superscripsit Superscripsit is a powerful word 
processor, but it sacrificed a little ofScripslt's ease 
of use, and it is much more difficult to learn. 

Improvements over Scripsit include the ability to 
save documents longer than 11,821 characters to 
disk, user-definable Function keys, improved print- 
ing and editing functions, a text-compression util- 
ity for disk storage, and a better tab function. The 
user can preprogram text up to 127 characters long 



into a two-key command that will insert that text 
into the file whenever it is needed. This can be 
done with up to ten phrases. 

Superscripsit comes with printer drivers for all 
Radio Shack printers, and some of these drivers 
will work with other printers. In many cases, 
though, the user must either write his or her own 
driver or buy one. Superscripsit takes advantage of 
all the capabilities of the Radio Shack printers. 
Elongated, enhanced, bold, condensed, and other 
typefaces are available depending on which dot- 
matrix printer is used. Underlining, sub- and super- 
scripts are also available. 

Text scrolling is also improved. The user can 
page through the text a character, word, line, para- 
graph, or screen at a time. 

The documentation consists of four-cassettes 
worth of lessons with a manual, and a reference 
manual and card. All this is necessary if the user 
wants to learn ail of Superscripsit's features/The 
program itself has a help menu if the user forgets 
what to do at any point. : 

Superscripsit works best with two disk drives, 
and it requires at least 48K of memory. It is written 
in modules, and when certain functions are called, 
Superscripsit must access them from disk. '■;■ 

Superscripsit will work on the Model 4 in Model 
111 mode. Though Radio Shack plans to come out 
with a true Model 4 version, at this writing, it is not , 
available. - : ■'■''■■ ■ 

Most users don't need Superscripsit's sophisti- 
cation. For them, Scripsit is still available. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model III or 4, 48K RAM, 
disk drive - ■ ■ ■■ : , ■ ■ 
Radio Shack, $199 .. ;. - 

SUPERWRITER 

This program appears to have been designed 
someone who set out to improve on WordStar. The 
similarities are so strong that anyone familiar with 
WordStar will immediately feel comfortable with 
basic editing in SuperWriter. The program has 
most of the features and even many of the same 
commands as its better known competitor; yet it 
takes afundamentally different approach to certain 
aspects of word processing. ■ 

There is, in particular, the matter of how 
SuperWriter handles files while editing. WordStar 
writes part of the file to disk when it runs out of 
memory. Then it juggles the file between the disk . 
and RAM as necessary. SuperWriter holds the en- 



Word Processing 



169 



tire file in memory at once. This is either Super- 
Writer's greatest strength or its major weakness, 
depending on your point of view. 

The WordStar approach lets you make your files 
as long as you like, but keeping track of the jug- 
gling act ties up memory and forces you to wait 
while your computer reads from or writes to disk. 
When the file nears the length that will fit into mem- 
ory at one time, this can make editing very slow. 
SuperWriter's approach speeds things up, but it 
also means that your file size is limited by how 
much memory is in the machine. In a 64K com- 
puter, you are limited to roughly 20 pages of text 

Each of these approaches to file handling has its 
own advantages, and which one you prefer is in 
part a matter of taste. Few writers often need files 
longer than 20 pages; on the other hand, when they 
are needed it can be terribly inconvenient to work 
around their absence. : • 

Sup erWr/rer has a number of uncommonly useful 
features. One nice touch is a "document history" 
that lets you enter a document number, author 
name, creation date, and a short comment describ- 
ing the file. This last entry especially will be appre- 
ciated by anyone who has spent time staring at a 
screenful of file names while trying to remember 
what each one was. However, you can skip the doc- 
ument history if you prefer. 

Another nice touch is that SuperWriter comes 
with-sophisticated print formatting' and mail-merg- 
ing as part of the basic package instead of making 
them extra-cost options. 

In fact, SuperWriter includes a number of sophis- 
ticated capabilities. Once you tell it that a line of 
text should be centered, for example, it will recen- 
ter that line automatically when you change it. An- 
other feature lets you write batch files. This means 
you can create a file that will tell SuperWriter to do 
what amounts to a multiple global search and re- 
place, then run this file on any number of individual 
document files without having to reenter the com- 
mands. This can be more than a little useful for 
doing something like a globai search and replace 
through an entire book where each chapter is a 
separate file. 

Surprisingly, SuperWriter is weak on some basic 
editing needs.' For example, the search feature 
doesn't give you the choice of ignoring case, and it 
doesn't give you the choice of looking-for whole 
words only. The first limitation means that if you 
tell SuperWriter to look for "science" it will miss 



"Science" at the beginning of a sentence. The sec- 
ond oversight means that if you tell SuperWriter to 
find "science" and replace it with "research," you 
may wind up with the word "conscience" changed 
to "conresearch." 

Overall, SuperWriter is very much a first-rate 
word processor. In comparison to other such pro- 
grams, it misses a few tricks, but it also adds a few 
of its own. Whether you consider the overall result 
to be an improvement over the competition will de- 
pend on what you want out of a word processor. 
But if you're in the market for a full-featured word 
processing program, this one deserves serious 
consideration. 

Requirements: MS-DOS, 96K RAM; Machine-spe- 
cific versions for IBM PC, PCjr., and compatibles, 
Tandy 2000, and Texas Instruments Professional; 
CP/M and CP/M-86, 64K RAM 
Sorcim, $195 : 

TELEWRITER-64 

No computer can be taken seriously without a 
good word processor. Telewriter-64 offers every 
popular word-processing feature a Color Com- 
puter user needs, and it rivals the best programs 
available on any home computer. It even Works on 
a cassette-based CoCo, not just on disk-equipped 
machines.' '"■' 

Telewriter-64 overcomes the Color Computer's 
32-column by 16-line screen format with its own 
screen-display generator, in fact, the user can 
choose one of three formats: 51 by 24, 64 by 24, or 
B4 by 24. The 51 -column by 24-line format is by far 
the easiest to read. The other two formats are use- 
ful to get an idea of -what the printed output will 
look like. A monitor/rather than a TV set, should be 
used for maximum clarity, but this requires a moni- 
tor driver. • 

The screen-format generator has another plus: 
true lowercase letters. The Color Computer usually 
indicates lowercase by printing those letters in re- 
verse video. This looks terrible when writing text 
on the screen. : ; ■* ' '■ 

The text-editing functions are first class. All are 
accessed by one- or two-letter commands. You can 
move, delete, or copy blocks of text. You can move 
the cursor anywhere on the screen and massage 
your text into its final form with a minimum of ef- 
fort. Telewriter-64 even keeps track of the number 
of words and fines that have been typed. 

'Telewriter-64 is compatible with all the popular 



170 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



printers, and it can take advantage of special 
printer features such as underlining, sub- and su- 
perscript, and graphics. The user can number 
pages, set margins, and specify top and bottom of 
form. Telewriter also allows for headers to be 
printed on each page. 

Cognitec has produced a program with, powerful 
features whose functions don't get in the user's 
way. The manual is complete, though the produc- 
tion quality is poor; Any CoCo owner, novice or 
experienced, will enjoy this fine program. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Color Computer 
Cognitec, $49.95 cassette; $59.95 disk 

TEXT WIZARD 

Text Wizard is a versatile word processing pro- 
gram for Atari computers. It is reasonably. simple to 
use and inexpensive as well. 

Text is entered from keyboard to screen, much 
as it normally would be with the Atari. Word wrap 
and scrolling are available. Most of the norma! 
Atari keyboard editing functions can be used. In 
addition to the usual Atari single-character insert, 
Whole portions of text may be inserted at will. Other 
functions permit deleting, moving, or duplicating 
anything from a single letter to an entire text. The 
file may also be searched for words or phrases, and 
they may be replaced automatically with new text. 
.Supplementing the usual margin setting, line 
and character spacing, and length of page is a wide 
variety of printing features. These include auto- 
matic centering, underlining, indenting, justifica- 
tion, page numbering, sub- and superscripting, 
and printing with elongated or condensed print. 
These features appear as control characters in the. 
text and are executed only during printing. 

It takes only a few keystrokes to activate each of 
the editing and printing functions; some offer sev- 
eral. alternative methods. While it would save trial 
print runs : if more of the text formatting could be 
displayed on screen, Text Wizard does almost 
everything else a sophisticated word processor 
should do, and with logical and easy-to-leam pro- 
cedures. 

Requirements: Atari, 32K RAM; Atari 825, Epson 
MX-80, Centronics 737, or compatible printers 
Datasoft, $49.95 

VEDIT 

VEDIT is one of the best selling text editors for 
microcomputers. It can be used as a word proces- 



sor, but it is most popular among programmers. 
The V in VEDIT stands for "virtual"; it is a full- 
screen editor with a command language bearing 
some resemblance to the TECO editor found on 
minicomputers from Digital Equipment Corp. 

VEDIT has two very strong features: You can cus- 
tomize it to your heart's content, and it includes a 
macro language that lets you write programs to 
manipulate text. 

VEDIT is customized by running a program 
called VEDSET; the result is a new copy of VEDIT 
tailored to your liking. The range of things you can 
customize is impressive. Every function of the edi- 
tor can be assigned to a key or escape character 
plus the key of your choice. You can even define 
two keys that VEDIT will use as escape characters. 
For example, you could assign insert mode toggle 
to Control-V, like WordStar, or to the INS key on 
your IBM PC, or Escape-I. Cursor control is totally 
definable, including cursor motion by character, 
word, line, paragraph, and page. Other functions 
include erase to end of line, copy or move to a 
scratch buffer, undo changes made to the current 
line, accept the next character literally (embed con- 
trol codes in your file), format the current para- 
graph, and on and on. 

This customization does not guarantee that you 
can make VEDIT behave like any other editor: VE- 
DITs primitive functions may behave slightly differ- 
ently than another editor's, especially at 
boundaries like the end of a line. Nevertheless, it 
does mean that you are not stuck with someone 
else's idea of a mnemonic key sequence for editing 
functions. 

In addition to customizing keyboard layout, 
VEDIT lets you set myriad other parameters, includ- 
ing the cursor character and blink rate; the status 
line character; whether tabs should expand to 
spaces; whether files larger than will fit in memory 
should be automatically buffered; and whether to 
ignore case differences on search, margin settings, 
screen size, and even the sign-on message. One 
very clever feature will appear to assembly-lan- 
guage programmers: You can configure VEDIT to 
convert lowercase to uppercase automatically as 
you enter assembly-language mnemonics, but stop 
converting after encountering the "start comment" 
character on each line (usually a semicolon, but 
configuration, of course). 

VEDIVs macro programming language is its 
other unique feature. A macro is a sequence of 



Word Processing 



171 



VEDIT text editing commands that are executed 
automatically when the macro is run. Macros can 
be stored in numbered "text registers" or on disk. 
Macros can include iteration — a command or se- 
quence of commands can be automatically re- 
peated a specified number of times. A macro can 
even call another macro while it is executing. 

The text registers can hoid any block of text, not 
just command macros. This lets you store up to ten 
words, phrases, or entire documents in temporary 
buffers, and merge them into the text as required. 

Macros are particularly useful for lengthy search 
and replace operations. You can even use "wild- 
card" specifiers in the string you are searching 
your text for; for example, "VEDIT.:::" will match 
any text string starting with "VEDIT." and ending 
with three arbitrary characters. 

VEDIT is fast, functionally rich, and configurable 
to your whims. Its programming ability lets its 
usage stretch as far as your imagination will allow. 
If you just want an editor that pops a file up on the 
screen, lets you move the cursor around and 
change things, VEDIT is overkill. If you want some- 
thing more, and you like to program, why not try 
programming your editor? Just don't get so in- 
volved programming VEDIT that you forget about 
the program you bought it to write! 
Requirements: CP/M-80, IBM PC, or MS-DOS; 64K 
RAM, one disk drive 

CompuView Products, CP/M-80 or IBM $150; CP/ 
M-86 or MS-DOS $195 

VISI WORD 1.1 

Like all programs from VisiCorp, VisiWord is 
slickly packaged and beautifully documented. The 
printing and paper stock used in the manual are 
first class. The overall visual impression is excel- 
lent. All this would seem to complementthe "what- 
you-see-is-what-you-get" advertising slogan used 
for VisiWord. Unfortunately, what you see on the 
screen is not as good as what you get in the way of 
packaging. 

Perhaps the most annoying of this program's 
faults is the bright, inverse video border surround- 
ing the display screen. In addition to wasting valu- 
able screen space, it is distracting after only a few 
moments of use. Several continuous hours at the 
keyboard would make it a major irritation. Unfortu- 
nately, there is no way to turn it off. 

Cursor movement, which is a vital part of work- 
ing with a word processor, is unacceptably slow. 



The cursor cannot be moved a sentence at a time, 
or even a word at a time. When moving from "the 
end of a line to the beginning, it must be moved a 
letter at a time. Other functions, such as delete and 
block copy, are equally slow. 

On the plus side, the program is very easy to 
learn. It is completely menu driven, and most of its 
functions are straightforward and logical. It has a 
window feature that allows you to split the screen 
into two horizontal sections. Thus, text from one 
file can be displayed in one window, while a com- 
pletely different file can be displayed in the other. 
This is handy for looking over notes or an earlier 
version of your text while you create another. 

VisiWord can do just about anything you would 
expect of a word processor, but there are easier 
ways to do them. .■ ' ■ ■■■■■■■:■.. 

Requirements: IBM PC, disk drive, DOS 1.1 and 
128K RAM or DOS 2.0 and 192K RAM ■ 
VisiCorp, $375 

VOLKSWRITER 

Vofkswriter is an attractively priced word pro- 
cessing program characterized by extensive edit- 
ing functions, full use of the IBM PC keyboard, and 
file-safety features. Some formatting functions are 
inconvenient, but the package as a whole repre- 
sents very good value. 

Editing commands include multiple deletions by 
character or word or to the end of a line, block 
copy and move, centering, screen reformatting, 
and underlining. The majority of these are exe- 
cuted using the ten function keys, either alone or 
in conjunction with the ALT key. This provides sin- 
gle-stroke implementation for maximum efficiency. 
Others, like overstriking and holding, require awk- 
ward procedures. Where the left-side function keys 
control editing/formatting, the ten-key pad controls 
cursor movement. 

Headers and footers can have multiple lines and 
Vo Ms wr/rer-generated page numbers. There is. no 
footnoting capability. Page formats, including mar- 
gins, tabs, and line spacing, may be stored as boil- 
erplate and recalled into a document as needed: 

Voikswriter subscribes to the block procedure; 
you insert markers to define passages of text. You 
then can copy or move this block. Unfortunately, 
blocks can only be specified by lines. This usually 
means that you must isolate the passage you wish 
to copy or move to prevent affecting too much text. 
Voikswriter loads the entire file into memory so that 



172 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



repositioning is very fast. The Find command is 

unusually powerful in that it searches the entire fife 
regardless of cursor position, it is case-sensitive, 
however; Volkswriter does not ignore upper- and 
lowercase. Screen formatting is not continuous, 
but. executes almost instantaneously upon com- 
mand. 

One very notable feature is Volkswriter's mem- 
ory-capacity warning signals. With 64K RAM, you 
can store about eight pages. Too often with pro- 
grams of this type, you lose text when this limit is 
exceeded. With Volkswriter, however, the screen 
status line continuously displays available mem- 
ory. Once the 10 percent level is reached, the dis- 
play blinks, and at zero, Volkswriter beeps and 
courteously but firmly asks you to save the file. 

Word processing novices will find the online tu- 
torials complete and easy. Error trapping is very 
good. The F10 key immediately cancels mistaken 
commands. These items, along with the easy-to- 
use program itself and the relatively low price,' 
make Volkswriter an ideal word-processing system 
for the beginner. Lengthy, complex documents 
may require more sophisticated offerings, usually 
at a much higher price. If you are just starting, or 
do not need functions like newspaper columning 
and subscripting, this may be just the package for 
you. 

Requirements: IBM PC, MS-DOS, 64K RAM, disk 
drive 
Lifetree Software, $195 ...... 

WORD 

The people at Microsoft have done their home- 
work and managed to combine the features of 
more difficult word processors, such as WordStar, 
with the user-friendliness often claimed for the new 
generation of application programs. As a result, Mi- 
crosoft WORD sets new standards of power and 
convenience that its future competitors must work 
very hard to meet. 

To anyone familiar with Microsoft's spreadsheet 
program, Multiplan, most of WORD'S commands 
will look very familiar. Someone who has become 
accustomed to the more complex command struc- 
ture of WordStar will have to spend some time un- 
learning skills they no longer need. The time spent 
will be well worth the trouble. 

For their efforts, these users will end up with a 
program that offers not just split-screen editing, 
but multiple windows. WORD- makes it possible to 



work on up to eight documents at the same time or 
to view, edit, and copy different parts of the same 
file between windows. The speed of the program 
does suffer when more than three or four windows 
are open at the same time, but the result is still 
much faster and easier than reloading documents 
one by one. 

Another nice feature is WORD'S powerful format- 
ting control. The user can save a "style sheet" for 
any kind of document format imaginable and for- 
mat the entire document instantly simply by calling 
up that style sheet. Footnoting is handled automat- 
ically, renumbering as changes are made. :■■'■■ 

"A special command called "Undo" will save the 
text that the user has deleted and put it back in 
place with the push of a single key, a big help when 
you have just erased a paragraph instead of a word 
by mistake. Undo even allows the user to copy text 
between two or more documents and to hold it in 
memory and re-enter it in several places without 
retyping. .=< ■ : i 

WORD was designed to use the Microsoft 
Mouse, which is included with the program. Those 
users who can pull themselves away from the key- 
board will find a significant improvement in pro- 
ductivity when using the mouse. It allows quick 
scrolling in all four directions and makes it pos- 
sible to select commands by merely pointing to 
them on the screen. Locating a particular page in a 
document is easy, as is finding or updating any 
word or phrase. 

Microsoft did make one unfortunate decision in 
setting up the screen. The screen of an IBM PC has 
25 lines, but WORD uses six of them for various 
status and command-line functions. This leaves the 
user with only 19 lines for text. If several windows 
are opened at once, each becomes so small that it 
is difficult to work with. : 

A few increasingly common facilities are not yet 
available in WORD. Microsoft does not offer a 
spelling checker at this time, nor Is there a mailing- 
list program tied to WORD. However, most users 
will find that the power of the program in so many 
other areas will make up for these deficiencies. : :: 

The manual makes it easy for the beginner to get 
started. Most functions are well explained, and 
most include useful examples. An on-line help fa- 
cility is available; it gives a reasonable amount of 
information, but does not contain as complete a 
description of what to do next as Lotus 1-2-3, to- 
day's leader in on-line assistance. - .•'' 



Word Processing 



173 



Requirements: IBM PC, PC DOS, 128K RAM, one 

disk drive; mouse optional 

Microsoft, $475 with mouse; $375 without 

WORDMASTER 

One of the early screen-oriented text editors, 
WordMaster is a less powerful relative of the more 
famous WordStar. Though the two have much in 
common, there are significant differences. 

Where WordStar has half a dozen menus full of 
specialized editing commands, WordMaster has 
only two sets: In video mode, the cursor can be 
moved, characters inserted or deleted, and other 
changes made directly on the screen. In command 
mode, lines and pages can be moved or altered, 
strings searched for and replaced, and macros- 
sets of commands executed at one time— set up 
and used. Specifying a number with most of these 
commands causes the instruction to be repeated 
that many times. Results of the command-mode 
functions appear when you return to video mode. 
Unlike a full-ftedged word processor, WordMaster 
provides nothing in the way of formatting; text is 
printed out just as it is typed in and edited. 

Though powerful, the relatively limited set of ed- 
iting commands means that it will take longer to 
create a large document with this program than 
with more modern word processors. WordMaster's 
most satisfied users tend to be programmers writ- 
ing source code for later assembly or compilation. 
For this purpose, it is probably one of the best CP/ 
M text editors available. Writers who often produce 
long blocks of copy and require neat manuscripts 
are likely to prefer one of the faster, more powerful 
word processors, however. 
Requirements: CP/M 
MicroPro International Corp., $150 

WORDPERFECT 

If it can be done with a word processor, Word- 
Perfect will do it. What's more, it will do it quickly 
and conveniently. 

WordPerfect's power is not discernible from the 
screen. From the time the program is first loaded, 
the screen is blank. The only hint of versatility is a 
plastic template that fits on the keyboard/Even 
though the template labels each function key as 
having two or three purposes, it is only when you 
read the accompanying list of features that you 
begin to appreciate the scope of the functions. 

You can move the cursor forward or back one 



character at a time or by the word, screen, page, or 
to the ends of the document, but not to the end of a 
line or paragraph. To control cursor movement, 
.you press the Home key. For example, hitting 
Home, then the Up Arrow, moves the cursor to the 
top of the screen. Hitting Home twice before the Up 
Arrow moves the cursor to the beginning of the 
document, in practice, this method is very fast; it is 
easier to hit one key twice than two keys once. You 
can delete a character to the left or right, a word, a 
line, or the rest of the document. For the last two, 
an error trapping routine verifies your intention. 

WordPerfect offers true what-you-see-is-what- 
you-get editing. Underlining, boldface, centering, 
single- and double-spacing are all displayed. How- 
ever, many control characters do not appear. For- 
matting codes like margin and tab changes can be 
placed anywhere, but they can be seen only when 
you invoke a Reveal Functions that displays all hid- 
den codes. One inconvenience is the inability to 
make changes from this special screen. You have 
to see what hidden codes are there and return to 
the regular screen to make the changes. 

WordPerfect has all the normal features, and 
some powerful innovations as well. Hitting the Set 
Page Attributes key allows you to change the for- 
mat or page number of the current page, or even to 
center the text from the top to the bottom. This last 
feature would be extremely useful in writing letters. 
Other formatting options include tabs and decimal 
tabs, flush right and left justification, left and right 
temporary margins, changing lines per inch, and 
. setting top of page margins. WordPerfect allows 
you to include multiple-line footnotes that follow 
the subscripts, and will even renumber them for 
you. 

Printing can be done while working on the docu- 
ment itself or can be held for batch printing later. 
Options within the document include printing 
either the current page or the entire text. Print 
commands allow control of changing printwheeis, 
printing multiple copies, and handling multiple bin 
sheet feeders. You can also insert embedded ASCII 
commands for typesetters. 

A macro facility allows easy creation of keystroke 
routines. You may store the phrase "personal com- 
puter" and call it to the screen by hitting the ALT 
and a single letter key. Moreover, you may store 
command sequences like changing margins, tabs, 
line spacing, and justification, some 20 keystroke 
functions, and invoke them with two keys. 



174 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



A dictionary can be called from within Word- 
Perfect. Some 1,500 common words reside in 
memory, 30,000 more on the program disk. You 
may check a word, page, or the entire document. If 
the word is not found, you may elect to search the 
larger dictionary, and WordPerfect will come up 
with alternatives. If the word is correctly spelled but 
just not in the dictionary, hitting one key will add it. 
You can create personal dictionaries as well. 

A math package also comes with WordPerfect. 
Although it is meant for statistical typing within a 
document, it is really: a low-powered spreadsheet. 
This portion lets you set up columns of numbers, 
which it will add, subtract, multiply, and divide 
both across and down, calculating subtotals, to- 
tals, and grand totals. Once you set up the process, 
you may change the numbers and WordPerfect will 
recalculate the results. ..'./■. 

Perhaps this program's strongest asset is its so- 
called Flash feature. Most MS-DOS word proces- 
sors, including WordStar, suffer from painfully 
slow screen updating. WordPerfect's Flash option 
roughly trebles the speed of., updating and will 
come as a relief to creative writers .who loathe 
being interrupted in midsentence while the screen 
is rewritten. The manual insists that this feature 
works only with the IBM PC, but Flash has been 
found to function with several of the compatibles 
as well. It's worth a try.: . ; - : ■■'. 

WordPerfects only weakness is in its documen- 
tation. The manual issomewhat light in explaining 
the functions and gives pn|y one example of each. 
For a system of this sophistication, separate tuto- 
rial and reference sections would be valuable. 

Without a doubt, though, WordPerfect is a first- 
rate, professional word processing system. It takes 
a while to learn all the features, but there are few it 
lacks. Moreover, the dictionary and math packages 
are equal to separately priced programs with other 
word-processing systems. Though costly, Word- 
Perfect ranks as one of the best values around. , : . 
Requirements: IBM PC; Victor 9000; Zenith Z-1 00; 
Ti Professional; DEC; 128K RAM, two disk drives 
Satellite Software International, $495 , 

WORDPRO 3 PLUS/64 

WordPro 3 Plus/64 could be considered the 
"standard" word processor for the Commodore 64. 
It isn't the best, but it is a good program by which 
to judge the relative power of others. 

With very few changes, this program is almost 



identical to earlier versions of WordPro for the 
Commodore PET and CBM machines. The differ- 
ences include a slightly expanded capacity. The 
computer can store a maximum of 329 lines, or 
about 9 double-spaced manuscript pages, of text 
without the need to write a disk file. And, for con- 
venience, the foreground, background, and border 
colors of the screen can be changed to suit individ- 
ual tastes. 

In WordPro, all of the formatting — that is, deter- 
mining how a page is set up on paper— is done at 
the time of printing, the look of text on the screen 
is sometimes confusing. Except for paragraphs, 
the text simply fills the screen; if words are not 
finished at the end of a line, they are broken and 
continued on the next This is probably WordPro's 
most inconvenient feature, but since the program 
uses the 64's 40-colurnn screen as a "window" to 
the RAM memory in which text is stored, it is ac- 
tually quite logical. This is not as troublesome as it 
sounds, and the user grows accustomed to it rap- 
idly, although this is not a "see-what-you-get" kind 
of text editor. :.:.-.'■ 

Several desirable.features give WordPro impres- 
sive power. It is fast. Scrolling backward and for- 
ward through text, and activities like deleting and 
moving text work with blurring speed. It is also 
possible to merge variable text, like mailing-list in- 
formation, into the main text, a letter,' for example, 
without the need for additional software. It is easy, 
too, to link several short files together into longer 
ones when necessary. ; ; 

Finally, WordPro accomplishes virtually all of the 
basic printing functions that a writer needs: the 
ability to change pitch sizes and line lengths and 
spacing within a document, underlining, boldface 
printing (overstriking), and sub- and superscipts. 
Using these features is easy and very natural. For 
those who prepare financial reports, WordPro can 
add and subtract columns of numbers, as well.. : 

Ail of this, and much more, makes WordPro the 
kind of professional tool one could use on a day- 
to-day basis. Released at press time, though un- 
available for review, was a spelling checker (dictio- 
nary) for WordPro. 

Requirements: Commodore 64, disk drive 
Professional Software, Inc., $80 . -,.'-. 

WORDSTAR 

If there is any single word processor that can 
legitimately be called the standard against which 



Word Processing 



175 



all others are measured, WordStar is certainly it. 
Yet if you want to start a lively discussion, try walk- 
ing into a roomful of knowledgeable computer 
users and making a comment about WordStar, 
good or bad. Odds are you'll find a wide range of 
opinion, with a few people claiming the program is 
the greatest thing since sliced bread, while others 
make snide comments about its performance and 
ease of use. What's really interesting, though, is the 
number of people who can't find anything. nice to 
say about the program but use it anyway. 

The telling point, of course, is the last one. Even 
while people complain about WordStar's limita- 
tions, real and imagined, they keep using it. What it 
boils down to is that an amazingly large number of 
WordStar users regard it as the worst word proces- 
sor imaginable— except for everything else. 

Even if you're new to computers you're probably 
aware of WordStar's reputation of being powerful 
but difficult to learn. The common wisdom is that 
its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness — 
that the very flexibility and richness of commands 
that makes it so powerful also makes it overwhelm- 
ing for the beginner. The argument is reasonable, 
but flawed. Granted, if you sit down with WordStar 
and try to learn all the commands at once, you will 
likely be overwhelmed. But that would be just as 
true with any full featured program if you're mis- 
guided enough to approach it that way. You can 
also sit down with WordStar, limit yourself to a few 
fundamental commands, and be using it produc- 
tively within ten minutes. More on this shortly. 

WordStar is probably best known for two fea- 
tures. First, there is the on-screen formatting— the 
"what you see is what you get" approach to word 
processing. Many word processors still do not use 
this approach. Without it, if your screen has 80 col- 
umns across, your text will appear as 80-character 
lines, no matter how you plan to print it out.:. This 
means that you don't know how your text will lay 
out on the page until after you've printed it. A letter, 
for example, may surprise you by printing out all 
on one page, except for the signature block, which 
winds up on -another page all by itself. With Word- 
Star, though, typing text on the computer is pretty 
much like typing it on a sheet of paper. If you want 
to print with 60 characters per line, you set the 
margin at 60, and your text shows up on your 
screen that way. If it doesn't lay out well on the 
screen, you can change the margins and otherwise 
fool with it until you like the way it looks. 



The other feature for which WordStar is known is 
its menus. These are probably the most misunder- 
stood and least appreciated part of the program. 
They can be set to any of four help levels, and they 
let you treat WordStar as fully menu-based, fully 
command-based, or as something in between. If 
you know how to take advantage of them, they 
make the program reasonably easy to learn and 
use — despite anything you've heard to the con- 
trary. 

When you go into WordStar, you are presented 
with an "Opening Menu." From here you have sev- 
eral more-or-less standard choices for a word pro- 
cessor including copy a file, rename a file, delete a 
file, and open a file for editing. There is also an 
option to set the help level. If you are new to the 
program, you are best off leaving it set for maxi- 
mum help. 

, If you then open a file, you'll find that WordStar 
will devote the top third of the screen to its Main 
Menu. This includes the most commonly used 
commands, along with reminders for how to get to 
other menus'that list more commands. If you want 
to change your margins, for example, you would 
enter a "Control-O" to go to the On-screen format 
menu. Not-so-incidentaliy, all the commands you 
need for basic word, processing are on the Main 
Menu. If you simply ignore the other menus when 
first learning the program, you'll be able to use 
WordStar almost immediately without feeling over- 
whelmed. 

Once you get reasonably familiar with the basic 
commands, you'll want to get rid of the Main Menu 
so you have more room for text on the screen.. At 
that point you can switch to next help level. This 
turns off the Main Menu (unless you switch back to 
the maximum help level), but it still lets you call up 
additional menus on-screen. This means that if you 
want to change your right margin, but can't re- 
member the command, you can enter a "Control- 
O" for the On-screen format menu, then read the 
menu to find the command "R" for right margin. 
Alternately, if you know the full command, you can 
enter "Control-0 R" for "On-screen format— Right 
margin," and not have to wait for the menu to be 
written on the screen. . ■ : "■■ ■■'■ 

One problem with this help level is that occasion- 
ally you will hesitate between the first and second 
keystroke and wind up having to wait for the menu 
to be written on the screen even though you know 
the command. As you get more familiar with the 



776 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



program, though, you can move to even lower help 
levels. At level 0, the program won't put menus on 
the screen at all.. 

. One other note about WordStar's structure: The 
program has been characterized as taking a Swiss 
Army knife approach to word processing, with 
some of the blades optional (MailMerge, Sp.ellStar, 
Starlndex). Aside from the obvious, and valid, im- 
plication that Words tar program. has enough fea- 
tures to do just about anything, there is something 
particularly appropriate about the image of multi- 
ple blades, in effect, each menu functions as a sep- 
arate blade. The On-screen menu contains ail the 
commands relating to on-screen format— things 
like margins, tabs, line spacing, and justification. 
The Block and File menu; contains all the com- 
mands relating to blocks and files—things like 
marking a block, copying a file, or closing a file, 
And so on. ..:■:■..■ 

WordStar has been widely criticized for having 
arbitrary, hard-to-learn commands, but most com- 
mands suddenly make sense if you realize that 
.within each menu, each "blade" on the knife, most 
commands are mnemonics — as with "Control-0 
R", for "On-screen format, Right margin," or "Con-. 
troI-KD" for "blocK and file menu, Done." :■. 
. = T ; Ultimately, how you feel about any given word 
processor is bound to have at least as much to do 
with the biases you bring to it as with any features 
or limitations of the program itself. And the odds 
are very long indeed against any word processor 
matching your -biases exactly. ; The genius of 
WordStar is that it is powerful enough to do just 
about anything you could want while being flexible 
enough so that most people can make it match 
most of their biases most of the time. ■'.■ ■ 
Requirements: Versions for MS-DOS, CP/M-80, 
CP/M-86, Concurrent CP/M 
MicroPro International Corp., $495 

write ■ -■;'.■ 

There are a few people who use word processors 
and would .not be happy with WRITE — Writer's 
Really incredible Text Editor. But most are proba- 
bly concerned more with tangential matters than 
with writing itself. 

Jf, for example, you love being able to peer 
through a window at one file while editing another, 
WRITE is not for you. A windowing, multifile revi- 
sion is in the works, but the version now being 
delivered is limited to a single text file. . 



Programmers will miss certain features. The 
macro language and many scratchpad buffers that 
make Vedit a joy to program with are absent Again, 
a programmer's edition of WRITE is in the works 
but remains undelivered. :-.; .:■,■-.■ 

But if what you do is write — that is, chum out 
large quantities of original text, reworking it re- 
peatedly until it suits you — then take a close. look 
at this word processor. After a minimum of learning 
time, WRITE fades into the background, leaving 
you to wrestle with your prose. All the features of a 
powerful word processor are available, but none of 
the common inconveniences. If. you, too, are the 
sort of writer who used to turn off your Selectric 
between sentences because the whirring made it 
impossible to think,; you'll understand how much 
easier writing can become when you eliminate 
even minor distractions. ;. 

Part of WRITE's ease of use comes from the pro- 
gram's .structure. An opening menu, handles file 
and directory functions,. display width, tab settings, 
and the like. A separate print menu accessible from 
it governs the standard page settings, line width 
and spacing, header and footer margins, hyphena- 
tion, and so on. Any function is available with a 
one-key command. A single ESCape takes you 
from the print menu to the main menu, from the 
main menu to the text area, or from the text to the 
main menu. In use, nothing could be fastetv = 

Another factor is one of the designer's judge- 
ment calls: Files are limited to the space that will fit 
in memory — about 20 pages of double-spaced typ- 
ing. This avoids the delays that plague word pro- 
cess o>s like WordStar and; Final Word, which 
switch your text into and out of memory. Further, 
all of WRITE fits into memory, save for the help' 
screens and a few seldom-used overlays. You are 
never forced to wait for a command to arrive/from 
the disk before it takes effect. • ••'■: .•,::.:; 

WRITE is not exactly a "what-you-see-js-what- 
you-get" editor. In fact, it's more. On-screen lines 
and and printed lines are set independently; if they 
are set to the same width, the lines break on screen 
as they will on paper. (When you change, screen 
widths, the result appears immediately; there is no 
need to reformat the text, as in WordStar.) If that is 
not good enough, a print-to-screen function dis- 
plays page breaks as well. :.. 

All the standard editorial functions are supplied, 
including a variety of cursor-movement com- 
mands; delete character, line, or block, or to the 



Word Processing 



177 



end of a word on line; and an unusually versatile 
search-and-repiace routine. About all that is miss- 
ing is a Remove command: Control-R, say, fol- 
lowed by any character deletes everything from the 
cursor position through the next occurrence of the 
character. Virtually no program has supplied that 
extraordinary time-saver since the original version 
of Electric Pencil, now. long forgotten. 

■In all, this Is a first-rate word processor. Several 
years of determined searching have turned up 
nothing that approaches its combination of sim- 
plicity, power, and speed in turning out large vol- 
umes of original writing. 
Requirements: CP/M-80 
Workman & Associates, $239 

THE WRITE CHOICE 

-Several years ago, a rather unusual text editing 
program for the Apple made itself known. Called 
The Correspondent, It used a left and right scroll- 
ing window to fit a true "what you see is what you 
get" 80-co!umn work area on the 40-column 
screen. No formatting commands were needed; 
text appeared on screen exactly as it would be 
printed. Forms could easily be produced, allowing 
you to "fill in the blanks" on screen and then print 
the completed form. ; ; ; 

Many standard word-processing functions were 
included when this remarkable program debuted 
at $35, but what made it unique were some of the 
other features. Incorporating a fast "find" routine 
and file-linking function, it could be used as a free- 
form database of unlimited size. Notes and other 
information could be stored in multiple files l on 
many disks, yet could be retrieved easily because 
every linked file could be searched in a single op- 
eration. Text was saved normally as binary files, but 
the program could access both random and, se- 
quential text files. This allowed for editing of pro- 
gram data files and the creation of Exec files. ■■'*'■ 
: } Over the years, The Correspondent has been im- 
proved and revised into what is now an excellent 
word processor for both the beginning and ad- 
vanced user. Still using the horizontally scrolling 
window; it now supports most 80-column cards to 
give up to 160 characters across. Block moves, find 
and replace, justification, multiple copies, help 
screens, tabbing, insert and delete, upper and 
lowercase, Shift key ...it's allthere. 

What makes this new version worth considering? 
For one thing, it is no longer copy protected, it 



uses a high speed DOS for quick loading and sav- 
ing of files, and if you have The Printographer, you 
can create documents with graphics right in the 
text. '■■■■■. .. ■■:-;••. 

Along with a reduction in price, a couple of extra 
goodies are included. One is the classic book, Ele- 
ments of Style, one of the best manuals of English 
usage, composition, and general writing style. The 
program's manual also includes a "style" section 
showing sample letters, manuscripts, reports, and 
outlines, along with helpful hints and instructions 
on how to produce them professionally. Still an- 
other item is a typing teacher program called Tut's 
Typer, with both a drill section and a typing game. 
All of this is wrapped up in a nice package called 
The Write Choice and retails for only $44.95. A real 
bargain in today's world! : ; 
Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, 11 + 
or He, 48K RAM, disk drive 
Roger Wagner Publishing, $44.95 



XYWRITE II 

XyWrite II may be the best all-around word pro- 
cessing program on the market today. It is aimed at 
professional writers and others who write a great 
deal and need to be able to choose from a variety 
of formats and commands. "-."•.' 

XyWrite was written originally by two people who 
had worked On the program for the ATEX word- 
processing system. They decided there was no rea- 
son they couldn't put a similar program on a micro- 
computer, and XyWrite is the' result. ' At present, 
XyWrite is only available for the IBM. It would take 
some work to adapt XyWrite commands to other 
micros' keyboards, especially if they lack special 
function keys and large memories. 
.There are several remarkable and useful features 
in XyWrite not found in most other word processing 
programs. Among them are the ability to recall and 
save materials that you have just deleted; and to 
run DOS under XyWrite as well as XyWrite under 
DOS, which will help programmers perform some 
neat tricks. You can also make indices and tables 
of contents. XyWrite also allows you to run two files 
simultaneously through split screens or windows: 
You can put two files up at the same time and split 
the screen into a top half and a bottom half, or a 
right and a left half, if you prefer to give both files 
the full screen, you can alternate from one file to 
the other by pressing a function key. You can also 



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OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



transfer data from one file to the other in this fash- 
ion. 

The menus from which you can choose special 
functions appear in a line, called a header, that 
appears at the top of the screen. There are three 
such menus, and you select functions by two-key 
commands. The only problem is that these headers 
are not very easy to read, and some of the com- 
mands are not as easy to understand as their 
WordStar counterparts. Once you are used to the 
program, though, you'll have no trouble finding 
what you need.. :.■."■■ 

Search methods are very comprehensive. You 
can search globally; or you can search from where 
you are to the end of a file; or from the cursor 
location back toward the beginning of a file. And 
you can search not only for specific combinations 
of. letters or numbers, but also for any wildcard 
matches, including punctuation marks. 

The program has provisions for all the standard 
text material and formats, including subscript and 
superscript, running headers and footers, and foot- 
notes. 

You can insert date and time at the beginning of 
each file automatically, if you choose — a real boon 
to people who must keep track of the time they 
work, or have so many versions of a document that 
it becomes hard to keep track of which was done 
when* 

One very nice thing about XyWrite is the instruc- 
tion manual that accompanies the program. It isn't 
written in jargon, and it isn't written in muddled 
sentences. The language is generally clear, and the 
instructions for any given function are easy to find. 
Every function in the program gets its own section 
in the manual, usually not more than a page or two 
Jong. Ail the functions are listed in the table of con- 
tents and in several indices and lists scattered 
through the book. Because the instructions are 
brief and easy to find, you sometimes get the feel- 
ing that maybe you're missing something. Most 
likely you've just become cynical from reading all 
the. bad computer manuals out there. In general, 
this is one of the best program instruction manuals 
around. 

Xyquest has recently announced an update of 
XyWrite, called XyWrite ll-plus. The update adds 
such features as integrated maiimerge, a com- 
pletely redefinable keyboard, and on-screen page 
and line indicators to XyWrite's already-impressive 
list of functions. 



These people have real iy done a nice job of using 
all the keys on the keyboard intelligently. They have 
kept the number of necessary keystrokes.to a mini- 
mum while including several uncommon and very 
handy functions. It will take only a little while for 
those who are used to other word processors to 
get the hang of XyWrite, and people who've never 
used any word processor before will find this one 
easy to start up and become comfortable with. 
Once you become accustomed to XyWrite, you'll 
never want to go back to the old programs again. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, one disk drive 
XyQuest,$195 



ZORLOF 

Funny names aside, Zorlof packs a surprising 
number of important word-processing features 
into an inexpensive package. Formatting options 
sometimes not available on more elaborate pro- 
grams are supported in Zorlof, and they work well. 

Writers. of manuscripts will be pleased with the 
ability to place titles and page numbers at the top 
or bottoms of pages. Setting tabs or indents is an 
easy job, and they can be set on both the right- and 
lefthand margins. Another important feature that is 
well supported in Zorlof is the block move function. 
This enables you to "cut and paste" your text with 
speed and accuracy. High-speed typists will also be 
pleasantly surprised with Zorlofs type-ahead capa- 
bility. It is written in Z-80 machine language and so 
is not hindered by the slowness that is characteris- 
tic of many BASIC programs. 

The ■ documentation, bound in a three-ring 
binder, is thorough and easy to follow. The open- 
ing parts of the manual are included en the pro- 
gram disk to serve, as a tutorial, an effective 
teaching system. 

Most popular printers are supported; and the 
Zorlof file-management system is very efficient. 
You can call up a file directory for the current disk 
at any. time. To load a file from the directory, just 
place the cursor over your choice. 

Zorlofs ability to print-to-screen allows you to 
see what your text will look like before you print a 
hardcopy. 

Considering the purchase price, this is one of the 
best word processing values on the market. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Model I or III, 23K RAM, 
disk drive 
Anitek Software Products, $69.95 



779 



UUP ACCESSORIES 



BULK MAILER 

Bulk Mailer is a mailing list program, and only 
that. You can't use it as a checkbook register, and 
you can't use it to manage your inventory. But you 
can certainly manage a mailing list and do it right! 

In case you thought microcomputers were inca- 
pable of handling large mailing lists, guess again. 
This one has a 32,000-name capacity with a 
hard disk, and a 2,400-name limit with two Apple II 
floppies. An IBM PC version handles Up to 
5,400 names, and a 32,000-name XT version is 
coming. 

Since the entire program is held in memory at 
one time, both disk drives may be used for record 
storage without the need for disk swapping. Work- 
ing from a single master menu, you can enter, 
scan, arid edit records; search; look up a specific 
record by number; print a last-name-first alpha- 
betic listing; and have all. or part of the list printed, 
from high to low zip code order, in one-to-four-up 
labels. Large zip code groups, 50 or more names, 
can be printed last to be grouped for bulk rate mail- 
ing. The new nine-digit and Canadian zip codes are 
allowed. " 

Duplicate names and addresses are the scourge 
of all mailing lists. Bulk Mailer can be instructed to 
remove all exact duplicates automatically and in- 
form you of close matches. You may then scan 
those records and decide which to delete. 

Bulk Mailer's label format is four lines with 28 
characters per line. Because the record number is 
normally printed on the name line, only 22 charac- 
ters are allowed here. The second entry line has 
several options. It can be printed as the first line, 
not printed at all (keep phone numbers here), or 
printed normally as a second name or address line;. 
Another field called XCODE can hold a sorting 
code of up to five digits. This can be used for cus- 
tomer groups, magazine subscription dates, and so 
on. : -' ■'■' ■'■"■ ' ■■"■'/ "'■■"■ 

As well as being able to define the label format, 
such as number across, spaces between labels, 
label width, and printer codes for different type 
styles, you can also specify default entries for the 
city, state, zip, and XCODE fields. (Handy when en- 
tering a thousand names ail in the same city!) 

For users who start out with the floppy version, 
the company offers a $100 credit toward purchase 
of the hard disk version along with a conversion 
utility to transfer your records to the new system. 

Bulk Mailer is supplied on a single copy-pro- 



tected disk and includes a nicely printed 56-page 

manual. 

Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, 11 + 

or lie, 48K RAM; disk drive; IBM PC, 64K RAM; disk 

drive 

Satori Software, $99; hard disk version $350 

DDPLUS 

DDPIus is designed to provide enhanced print- 
ing for WordStar or ASCII word-processing files. 
While recognizing conventional WordStar format- 
ting and printer commands, the menu-driven 
DDPIus adds powerful functions through new 
"double-dot commands" and the ability to define 
and use "macro" strings for complex operations. 

Users have complete control over their text, with 
DDPIus providing all necessary commands for 
margins, spacing, and text arrangement. 

One attractive and effective feature is the ability 
to use page headings and footings of one, two, or 
three lines each. Another is printing up to four col- 
umns in one pass down a page. Columnar printing 
is particularly easy. Once the number of columns, 
width, and column divider have been specified, the 
computer does all the work. Automatic formatting 
and numbering of outlines and lists also -can be 
done easily. :r " . 

Merging operations are supported, as are mi- 
crospace justification and true proportional spac- 
ing when a suitable printer is used. Fully formatted 
outputs may be routed to a serial printer, parallel 
printer, screen 6, or a new disk file. Even multiple- 
column text may be previewed on screen or saved 
to disk. This is ideal for telecommunications. 

DDPIus is thoroughly documented, easy to use, 
and affordable. It is a remarkably capable word 
processing aid. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 96K RAM '■''■''■''";■ 
The Alternate Key, $39.95 : : 

ELECTRIC WEBSTER 

Electric Webster, one of the older spelling check- 
ers, is available for Apple, Radio Shack, and IBM 
computers. You are more likely to find it, however, 
in disguise as part of a word-processing program. 
It hasbeen licensed for packaging with Spellbin- 
der, Palantir, and many others. 

EW shows words in context, but only on its sec- 
ond pass through the document; on the first pass, 
you must tell it you'd like to see the word. With the 
correction feature, it corrects words at the time it 



780 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



finds an error, but it doesn't correct all errors of the 
same type at once. 

If you find the correct spelling in EW's dictionary, 
you can have it replace the error automatically. 
This saves you from making another error as you 
type the correction. This feature does work, but not 
as the instructions said it would. 

If you don't use the correcting feature, EW simply 
marks words for correction, marking all errors of 
the same type at the same time. When it's done, it 
returns you to the word processor with the cursor 
on the first word you marked for correction. Then it 
takes you to the next word, etc., until you're fin- 
ished. 

The manufacturer has put considerable effort 
into adapting this program for Radio Shack com- 
puters. This may have been a mistake. Because of 
the many TRS-80 operating systems, installing 
Electric Webster on one is a complex three-hour 
task. It involves six disks, multiple duplication of 
several disks, and moving various files. Other ver- 
sions install and work much more easily. 

Documentation for the TRS-80 version is long, 
complicated, and not at all clear. Different sections 
tell how to install the program to work with specific 
word-processing programs. The TRS-80 version 
works with Scripsit, Lazy Writer, Electric Pencil, 
and many other word processors. 

Frequent disk swapping plagues the TRS-80 ver- 
sions but not the others. The program check file is 
larger than memory, but only if the word processor 
can create them. On the TRS-80, only Super- 
Scripsit creates files larger than memory. 
. Using this program with; a single-drive machine 
would be very hard. You'd be prompted through 
each step, but the constant disk switching could 
well stop you from using the program. 
Requirements: Apple 11, II + , or lie; IBM PC; TRS- 
80 Mode! Ill or IV; 48K RAM; one disk drive 
Cornucopia Software, Apple and IBM versions 
$149.95; TRS-80 version $89.95 or $149.95 with 
correction feature; hyphenation option $49.95; 
grammar and style corrector $49.95 , 

THE EXECUTIVE SPELLER 

The Executive Speller is a companion spelling 
checker for The Executive Secretary and Personal 
Secretary word-processing programs. It cannot be 
used by any other word processor and will not read 
standard Apple text files. 

The program is supplied with a spelling list of 



10,000 words, which can be expanded to 25,000 
words. You may make as many copies of the sup- 
plied list as you like, customizing each to a differ- 
ent application. Blank lists may also be made, 
allowing you to build custom spelling lists from 
scratch. 

Menu driven, the program begins by offering you 
several choices. You may elect to just proofread a 
document or proofread and correct. In the correc- 
tion mode, words not in the program's dictionary 
are underlined on the screen in context and you 
have the option of both correcting the word and 
adding it to the spelling list. Other options allow 
you to add and deiete words from a spelling list, 
print a complete spelling list or just the words in a 
particular document. 

Verification speed is quite slow, approximately 
160 words per minute, and the program does have 
some problems. Prompts to change disks are not 
explicit, and the program either hangs or bombs if 
the right disk is not in the right drive at the right 
time. When listing document words to the printer 
or screen, the word-frequency count of each word 
was totally erroneous. With these problems cor- 
rected, the program should prove adequate for its 
intended purpose. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + or lie, 48K RAM, disk 
drive, The Executive Secretary or Personal Secre- 
tary 
Sof/Sys.,$75 '..'■.....,: 

FCM WITH FORM LETTER 

FCM {Filing, Cataloging, and Mailing) is a data- 
base filing system designed primarily for the main- 
tenance and printing of mailing lists, envelopes, 
and labels. Formally known as 1st Class Mail and 
before that, Mail room, FCM can also be used for 
filing and cataloging collections, inventories, med- 
ical records, schedules, or any information that will 
fit into a maximum of ten fields. 

When FCM is used as a mailing list, data is en- 
tered into ten preformatted fields containing first 
and last name, company, address, city, state, zip, 
telephone, and two special fields that can be used 
for miscellaneous data. Up to a total of 132 charac- 
ters can be entered; individual fields are limited to 
24 characters. A total of 750 records fit on a single 
disk with only one file allowed per disk. Up to three 
sorted versions of the primary file can be held on 
the same disk, but longer files must be split among 
multiple disks. 



Word Processing Accessories 



181 



Mailing-list programs are useless if you can't 
print what you want and where you want, in this 
department, FCM shines. Labels can contain as 
many as nine lines with up to five fields per line on 
as many as nine labels across. You can even 
change type styles between fields. As expected, la- 
bels can be printed based on any sort file or search 
criteria. Along with printing a master list in any 
order, FCM also prints envelopes either singly or 
continuously. 

A Form Letter module allows the date, ad- 
dresses, salutation, closing, signature line, and so 
on, to be set up within FCM and then merged with 
your mailing list. The body of the letter (up to two 
pages) Is prepared in advance using your word 
processor. Compatible programs are AppleWriter 
iillle, Screenwriter II, Superscribe, Pie Writer, and 
others producing standard DOS text files. 

Field names and lengths may be redefined to 
adapt FCM to any customized database applica- 
tions. Up to 10 fields containing no more than 132 
characters total can be used. A default option al- 
lows specified fields to contain fixed information, 
and a repeat option copies whatever was written in 
the same field of the previous record. 
: A well-written 108-page manual is included. 
Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
or lie, 48K RAM, disk drive; Commodore 64, disk 
drive; IBM PC, two disk drives 
ContinentalSoftware, $74.95 

FOOTNOTE 

Footnote is an add-on to the popular WordStar 
word processing function. It has only a single-func- 
tion, but one that academic writers will appreciate. 
Footnote provides the ability to make super- 
scripted calls and bottom-of-the-page notes. 

The process is simple: When you create Word- 
Star 'text, just type an "©"wherever you wish a call 
to appear. Then either type in the collective foot- 
note i texts in following the normal text, create a 
separate WordStar file that only contains footnote 
text. In either case, footnote text creation requires 
only that you begin each note with the same "@" 
as in the actual text itself, end each with a hard 
carriage return and put a blank line between each 
entry. ■ '\ 

Once the WordStar file is created, you load Foot- 
note. Actually printing documents with proper foot- 
notes is a two-stage process. The first step involves 
replacing the "@s" scattered throughout your files 



with numbers. Footnote gives you the ability to 
name the starting call number. It is a simple pro- 
cess, choosing the first Footnote menu item, but it 
must be done for the text file, and then again if the 
footnotes are in a different file. 

After numbering comes a formatting process 
that arranges the footnotes in the text so that they 
appear at the bottom- of the page with the associ- 
ated call. This process works reliably, but it is quite 
slow. Finally, Foofaote-processed files can be ed- 
ited with WordStar to add or delete footnotes. 
Since you do not key in the numbers while creating 
the text, Footnote makes it easy to add or delete 
footnotes and change the numbering sequence 
after creation. 

These are flaws here. Footnote does not allow 
for variable line spacing of text and footnotes and 
cannot in dent footnotes. Worse, though, is the pro- 
cess itseif. it is simply cumbersome. 

For the committed WordStar user, Footnote adds 
a significant function. If you need this capability 
and are not married to WordStar, however, you'd 
be best using some of the newer, more advanced 
word processing programs with footnoting built in. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM 
Pro/Tern Software, $125 

LETTERFORM 1000 

It has been estimated that average office workers 
and professionals spend more than 20 percent of 
their time writing correspondence. If you suffer 
writer's block every time you sit down to compose 
a letter, or just plain hate letter writing, you are 
going to love Letterform 1 000. 

Letterform 1000 is five disks worth of prewritten 
letters and forms meant to be used with a word 
processor. The author claims that there are over a 
thousand letters and forms included, and certainly 
there are too many. These are divided into seven 
broad categories. The accounting and collection 
section has letters to help you ask for payment, 
demand payment, beg for payment, and explain 
why you are not sending someone else their pay- 
ment. There are letters for dealing with banks and 
letters meant to be used by bankers. Credit func- 
tions are also well represented. 

The "employers and employees" section con- 
tains a large selection of letters to help employees 
administer the personnel function, but employees 
are also well represented. Other sections include a 
variety of letters for "General Business," "Goodwill 



182 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



and Sales," "Legal," "Shipping and Ordering," 
"Personal," and "Schools, Charities, and Organi- 
zations." The letters are generally well written, and 
there is definitely something here for everybody. 

Letterform 1000 is extremely easy to use. Check 
the index to find a suitable letter, load the letter 
into your word processor, edit the letter to fit your 
circumstance, and print it out. It takes almost as 
long to describe the process as it does to execute 

it. • ■-■■■■: ■■''■ 

The documentation consists of three parts. The 
largest part of the manual contains printouts of all 
of the letters and forms. This allows you to deter- 
mine whether a particular letter will serve your 
needs. This is followed by an excellent "Writers 
Reference," a guide to abbreviations, conversion 
tables, proper forms of address, guide to correct 
punctuation, and much more. The third part of the 
manual is a well-organized index. 

If Letterform 1000 saves you just a few hours of 
your time, (and it will), it will have paid for itself. 
Requirements: IBM PC, two double-sided disk 
drives; word processing software 
PBLCorp.,$95. 

MAGIC WORDS 

Magic Words is a spelling checker designed by 
Artsci, the same company that made the word-pro- 
cessing program, Magic Window II. Though the 
company recommends that you use Magic Words 
as an adjunct to its product, this package will work 
with .most other word processors as well. 

Magic Words has a built-in dictionary of 14,000 
words. That sounds impressive, but it's not. For 
one, it doesn't include any contractions. Because 
Magic Words treats apostrophes as' word separa- 
tors, "hadn't" becomes two words: "hadn" and 
"t" The program accepts all one-letter words as 
correct, which takes care of "t," but "hadn" isn't in 
anyone's dictionary. Hyphens are also treated as 
word enders, so words broken by hyphens at the 
ends of lines are invariably listed as errors. In addi- 
tion, many "-ed" and "-ing" endings are missing, 
even when the root word is in the program's dictio- 
nary. ■':■■' 

The good news, however, is that Magic Words is 
easy to learn and use. It gives you many options for 
checking your documents. You can create a 
"marked file," a duplicate of the file being checked 
but with a marker in front of every word not found 
in the dictionary. You can also print out a list of 



errors pulled from the text, with page and line list- 
ings and context- — up to 254 characters showing 
where the word was used. And you can change the 
mistakes as the program whirrs about its business. 
At the end of a document, Magic Words tells you 
how many words it has scanned, giving you a word 
count in the process. 

In the "attended" mode, Magic Words displays 
the suspect word and asks whether it is correct. If 
you answer no, you can have the program put the 
word in a file, ignore it, or change it. If you answer 
yes, the word goes into your own custom dictio- 
nary, and you won't be asked about it again. In the 
"unattended" mode, words not found ,are simply 
listed for later perusal. 

Of course, for many writers, that list will be too 
long, and they'll be tempted to skip the whole 
checking procedure. There is another option, 
though: Don't hyphenate words and don't— 'or 
rather, do not— use contractions. Oh, yes, and use 
only the present tense. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , lie, one disk drive 
Artsci, $69.95 . 

MAIL LIST MANAGER 

Mail List Manager is a mail-merge program for 
the Apple Hi. From the main menu, you create a 
label format of up to six lines. The default setup is 
for four lines of label information and two addi- 
tional lines of comments. Each line may contain 
multiple fields, though there is a maximum of 12 
fields total for all lines of the format. Two additional 
lines of information are available at entry time. One 
is for phone numbers; the others for a label code, a 
six-character maximum description that can be 
used to hold specific selection criteria. Sorting, 
which is accomplished when the labels are printed, 
can be done on either of the two preselected fields. 

Mail List Manager has several helpful features. 
While you are creating the format, the outline of a 
label is placed on the screen so you can expand or 
reduce it to match the actual label dimensions. The 
same holds true during data-entry, when you fill in 
a life-size label on the screen. 

The program also uses the Sondex coding sys- 
tem, which converts vowel and consonant combi- 
nations into numeric values. This lets you search 
using descriptions that do not precisely match the 
desired record. As long as there is a similarity in 
the pronunciation or sound between the two, Mail 
List Manager will find the record sought. 



Word Processing Accessories 



183 



Some minor faults are also apparent. If you de- 
fine a wide label line, the onscreen label can ex- 
pand into the definition section, disturbing the 
aesthetics of the display. Also, you are limited to 
960 records per file, even if you have a hard disk. 
Similar records from different files can be merged 
into a new file, but the 960-record limit still applies. 
For business mailings, more space would be ap- 
preciated. 

Requirements: Apple III, 128K RAM, two disk 
drives 
Apple Computer, $150 

MAILING LABEL PROGRAM, MERGE 5 N 
PRINT 

It's understandable, but a hazard for software 
buyers. Faced with all too much competition, many 
of the software houses marketing so-called data- 
base management systems seem to panic. They 
make wild claims of flexibility and power that prove 
to be false almost as soon as the customer has paid 
for the program. • : 

Mailing Label Program 'risks no such disappoint- 
ment. In one unalterable format, it will store up to 
1,200 names with associated data on one double- 
sided disk, or 600 on a single-sided disk. The pro- 
gram is menu-driven, and its commands are so 
simple that a user should be able to set up a data- 
base within minutes of booting up the disk for the 
first time. 

Though the record format is fixed, it contains all 
the fields and user-controlled variables that most 
buyers will need to maintain a simple mailing list or 
directory. The sort and search functions can con- 
veniently locate or print records that fit a wide vari- 
ety of criteria in many combinations. . : ' 

Mailing Label Program will insert names and ad- 
dresses into WordStar files, making it a relatively 
inexpensive alternative to MicroPro's MailMerge. 
Working with its sister program, Merge 'n Print, 
Mailing Label Program is also compatible with any 
of several popular word processing programs. 
Among them are Benchmark, Easy Writer 1.1 and \ II, 
and Volkswriter. For these programs, it is not quite 
so cost effective", however. 

This combination of database and word proces- 
sor makes it relatively easy to produce customized 
form letters with the recipient's name and address 
inserted automatically as needed in each letter. No 
doubt it could be adapted to other purposes by 
anyone willing to recall that for this file, name, ad- 



dress, and the other fields have been given new. 

meanings. 

Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, two disk drives 

MBS Software, Mailing Label Program $95; Merge 

'n Print $149 

MEGASPELL 

Every word processor should have it's very own 
spelling checker. MegaSpell, with it's large 40,000 
word dictionary, is intended for use exclusively 
with MegaWriter. Expandable -by another 10,000 
words, the dictionary disk may be copied and cus- 
tomized for specialized applications such as legal, 
medical, or technical writing. 

Easy to operate, MegaSpell uses only six com- 
mands. Misspelled or unknown words are shown in 
context, allowing correction. You may choose to 
replace all occurrences of the word, replace only 
one, or skip this occurrence. An Ignore command 
instructs the program to ignore all occurrences of 
the word, and an Add command allows the addition 
of the word to the dictionary. Included also is an 
Organize option, a disk utility used for backing up, 
deleting, and renaming documents.. 

Unfortunately, the ease of use comes at a price. 
The program lacks both speed and features. It took 
approximately ten minutes to proofread four pages 
of lightly packed text, not counting correction time. 
No total count or tally of unique words is provided. 
There is no access to the dictionary; you can't look 
up a word to check spelling. When correcting a 
misspelled word, you must type in what you think 
is the correct spelling. It is then checked against 
the dictionary, and you are informed whether or 
not the word was found. Finally, one must be care- 
ful not to add misspelled words to the dictionary 
disk. Once added, they are there forever. ■'"■' 
Requirements: Apple N, II+ or lie, 64K RAM, disk 
drive : '■ '. ■ : " ' ' ";' 

Megahaus Corp., $59.95 

MICROSPELL 

MicroSpell has several nice features; When it 
finds a word it doesn't recognize, it prints both the 
word in context and a list of guesses. You can ac- 
cept, correct, or replace a wrong word or search 
the dictionary with wildcard characters. You ban 
correct all identical errors at once or ask to see 
each one. ■'■ 

Some words it corrects automatically, using a list 
of commonly misspelled words and correct spell- 



184 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ings. This part of the program, amazingly, updates 
itself by automatically storing the words you mis- 
spell and matching them with correct versions, so 
you'll never, have to fix a wrong word more than 
once. This is quite a timesaver! Another unique fea- 
ture: it finds double words, a frequent typing error. 
MicroSpell comes with a built-in dictionary of 
28,000 words, but the use of prefixes and suffixes 
makes this effectively equal to about 50,000. You 
can create special dictionaries and modify the pro- 
gram in various ways to suit your needs and sys- 
tem. And there's no limit on file size. , 
/There are two versions of documentation. One, 
apparently an older version, abounds in words like 
"heuristics," "solecisms," "stem-suffix decompo- 
sition," "transparent," .', and other .user-hostile 
terms. The print is tiny, the characters run together,. 
and the index is unreadable. The IBM PC version is 
much improved, but the index still is printed in very 
tiny letters. Make sure the documentation is legible 
before you buy. 

Requirements: CP/M-80, CP/M-86, or IBM PC; 42K 
RAM, one disk drive 
Lifeboat Associates, $249 . . 

PERFECT SPELLER 

.. Marketed with Perfect Writer, Perfect Speller \s a 
spelling checker that is both fast and easy to use. It 
comes with a main dictionary equivalent to. about 
50,000 ^ words — as much as possible, they are 
stored as root words, prefixes,, and suffixes — yet 
can usually process a 20-page document in three 
minutes or less. To start it, you type "CTRL X," 
then "S"-fpllowed-by the file to be checked. Perfect 
Speller soon displays the number of words pro- 
cessed and the number it doesn't recognize. Then 
it asks whether you want to scan the list If you say 
"no," it marks the unknown words in your docu- 
ment and returns you to Perfect Writer so you can 
correct the words. If you say "yes," it displays the 
words alphabetically, one at a time, to be added to 
the dictionary, marked for correction, or ignored. 
... At many points the documentation didn't match 
what the program was doing, the result of a rush to 
adapt. the Perfect series to the IBM PC, on which 
the program was tested. Sometimes different state- 
ments on one page confiicted. 

When you're ready to correct words, you can 
either do in-context correction, or use Perfect 
Writer itself. The editor will be more convenient 
Correcting in context fixes one marked word at a 



time, even if you misspelled the same word 50 
times in the document With the word processor 
you can use global search and replace to correct 
all similar errors at once. 

The documentation^ warns that adding words to 
the dictionary may destroy the dictionary file, so 
always back up the current dictionary before using 
it. Also, adding words to the dictionary increases 
very slightly the chance that the program will skip 
oyer a wrong word. ; You can create your own dic- 
tionaries and even buy additional special dictio- 
naries. ......:. 

Requirements: CP/M or MS-DOS, 64K RAM, one 

disk drive'-. 

Perfect Software, $189 U.;-; . 

POWERMAILPLUS 

This is. a very. potent mailing-list program for 
TRS-80 computers with many versatile features. 
RowerMAIL was written by Kim Watt, whose pro- 
gramming skill is legend, among serious TRS-80 
users, and it lives up to his normal high standard. 

In theory, this program. will store over 500,000 
address records on a Model I, III* or 4, and more 
than 16 million on a Model H, 12, or 16. In practice, 
it requires about 150K of disk space for each 1000 
records. Thus, on an 80-track, double-sided drive, 
you .could have a single file with up to 4,500 names. 
However, Power MAIL will keep track of files on up 
to eight drives, using them as one. 

One selection on the main menu is Add Records. 
Choose it, and the program displays an entry for- 
mat with a flashing block in the first field. You can 
then enter data, editing at will until you move to the 
next field. When : ail the data is entered, action 
moves to the bottom of the screen to allow setting 
flags, up to 24 of them for each record. Each flag 
can be either ON or OFF and allows you to classify 
records for selective printing.. :,.:.'. : . 

New records are entered into a special file called 
PMAIL/ADD; before use, they must be merged into 
the main repository, P MAIL/DAT. This requires little 
more than a menu choice, ..: 

Before any individual record in the file can be 
located, the file must be sorted. There are ten fields 
in each record, and up to eight be specified in the 
sort criteria. In fact, only an index is sorted, so the 
process is fast. Sorting a.1,250-record file on. the 
last name and zip code fields took only 1 minute 
and 12 seconds. 

To edit a record, it must first be- located by 



Word Processing Accessories 



185 



searching for a string in any of the fields. Again, the 
process is quick. Any name In a 1,250 name file 
could be found in about 3 seconds. . 

The user may also set a condition mask for each 
: field and flag, and an action mask allows setting or 
resetting a flag when the labels are. printed. This 
feature eases such procedures as "send to all who 
are flagged as not having been sent this mailing 
and reset the flag to show that they have now re- 
ceived it." '■■ 

In addition to labels, eight printing formats are 
available. The print options include sending con- 
trol code sequences to the printer to change its 
print modes. ■'■■: 

PowerMAIL Plus is an excellent mailing list pro- 
gram. The publisher will answer any technical 
questions over the telephone. However, the manual 
covers the program very well. If it had an index and 
glossary, there would be little need to call the com- 
pany. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Model I, II, 111, 4, 12, or 16; 
48K RAM; disk drive ■■■■■■-. 
Powersoft, $1 49.95 

SCRIPLUS 

Fast and easy to use, Radio Shack's Scripsit 
word processor has been deservedly popular for 
quite some time. However, it lacks some features it 
should have had, and Scriplus remedies these 
omissions nicely. ■ -•■. 

Scriplus adds two genera! categories of func- 
tion: the directory functions, and embedded con- 
trol codes in your text to call up printer functions 
that Scripsit normally does not use. % 

The directory functions are probably the more 
important. The "plain Jane'' Scripsit requires you 
to leave the program to view a disk directory, find 
out how much file space remains on it, or kill a file 
to free extra storage. Hit the Break key, pick from a 
menu, and Scriplus will do all of them with a single 
keystroke. ••• 

The print codes are also very useful. If you use 
any of the popular dot-matrix printers, such as the 
Epson, you may embed codes to shift from the nor- 
mal ten characters per inch to the condensed 
mode or the expanded mode, or to start and stop 
the emphasized or bold modes, underlining, super- 
or subscripts— you can even create graphics 
within your text. 

Scriplus has worked without problems over a 
long period on Models I, 111 and 4 {in Mode! Ill 



mode), under both TRS DOS and LDOS. It well 

worth its price. 

Requirements: TRS-BO Model I or IN, 48K RAM, 

disk drive ■■ ■'■■ 

Powersoft, $39.95 ': 



SENSIBLE SPELLER 

Dictionary programs or spelling checkers are 
certainly nothing new to the world of microcompu- 
ters. The big questions: is the spelling checker a 
good one, and does it contain an adequate number 
of words in its dictionary? Many spelling checkers 
on the market today have a very limited vocabulary, 
generally in the range of 15,000 to 30,000 words. 
While that may seem like a lot, it is only a very small 
portion of the approximately 600,000-word English 
language. Nonetheless, this number can be ade- 
quate if you are able to add your own personal 
words to the dictionary. ■ 

Many dictionary programs are made up electron- 
ically. Rather than having someone type in all the 
words, certain root words are entered, and a com- 
puter electronically produces the dictionary words. 
In a language as irregular as English, this can intro- 
duce some errors. . 

Sensible Speller on the other hand, contains all 
the words' found in the Random House Dictionary 
Concise Edition— over B0, 000 in all— and stores 
them ail on two floppy disks. As is the case with 
most spelling checkers, you make a copy of the 
dictionary disk, not the program disk, and use this 
copy in your proofreading session. Most programs 
allow you to add or delete words, but some are 
limited to only 1,500 or 2,000 words that can be 
added. The ■Sensible. Speller has room for approxi- 
mately 10,000 words on each of the two disks. One, 
the main dictionary, contains 43,000 words of the 
Random House Dictionary, the words most often 
used. The second disk, the supplementary dictio- 
nary, contains words less frequently used. . : ; ; 

Unlike many other spellers, Sensible Speller per- 
mits you to create an empty-dictionary disk. This 
lets you build a dictionary containing words unique 
to your occupation or purpose. Although the pro- 
gram requires only a single disk drive, you will not 
be able to add or remove words from the dictionary 
with only one drive. For ease of operation and to 
use this and some other features, two disk drives 
are strongly recommended. 

The speller works by collecting all the words 



186 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



from your document into the Apple's memory. If 
the document is larger than available memory 
space, it will be automatically processed in sec- 
tions. The program then reads through the se- 
lected dictionary disk and searches for each word, 
ignoring whether letters are in upper- or lowercase. 
Usually there are a few words from your manu- 
script that can't be found in any of the dictionaries 
—technical words and proper names as well as 
misspellings. :.. 

:-. You are shown, with three lines of text, the exact 
context in which the suspect word was. used and 
are given several options. You may add the word to 
a dictionary if it was properly spelled, ignore the 
word if it was spelled correctly but you don't want 
to add it to the dictionary, look up the correct spell- 
ing in any or all of the dictionary disks (two wild- 
card characters are supported), or have the 
program suggest the correct spelling. You can 
mark the misspelled word so it can easily be lo- 
cated with your word processor, or you may cor- 
rect' the misspelled word immediately. If you 
choose to fix it immediately, Sensible Speller will 
accept lowercase input from various shift-key mod- 
ifications. 

Extremely fast, this program will verify a ten- 
page document in about one minute if there are no 
errors, two to three minutes if there are several 
misspellings. The user should be aware that spell- 
ing checkers wilt not spot grammatical errors. If the 
word is in the dictionary, the program says it's O.K.; 
but if you are using correctly spelled words out of 
their proper context there is no way the computer 
can understand what you mean/ ■■:■■- 

Available in four different versions, the Sensible 
Speller will work under DOS 3.2, DOS 3.3, Apple 
Pascal, and Apple CP/M word processors, in both 
40- and 80-column versions. Able to handle both 
binary and standard Apple text files, it is compati- 
ble with almost every word-processing package 
currently available for the Apple. The few excep- 
tions are EasyWriter, EasyWriter Pro, and the In- 
credible Jack. Note also that the CP/M, Pascal and 
Word Handler versions do not allow immediate re- 
placement of misspellings or automatic suggestion 
of correct spellings. The program disk contains 
both DOS 3.2 and 3.3 and boots on either system. 

Special dictionaries are also available. Currently 
available is the Official Black's Law Dictionary. The 
entire official word list from this reference has 
been condensed on to a single 5-inch disk for use 



with Sensible Speller. All 20,000 words from the 
dictionary with 15,000 of the most commonly used 
words from the Random House Dictionary are in- 
cluded to provide a comprehensive Iegai dictionary 
on a single disk. Soon to be released IsSteadman's 
Medical Dictionary.' 

The Sensible Speller is an outstanding package 
for anyone who does a lot of writing using word 
processors. It will eliminate the drudgery of trying 
to find typos we all make, and the word-frequency 
analysis will provide you with an idea of whether 
you're being too repetitive or not. The documenta- 
tion is excellent and comes with two copies of the 
program disk along with the two dictionary disks. 
Requirements: Apple II, II + , or lie, Apple III in em- 
ulation mode, DOS 3.2,. 3.3, CP/M, or Pascal, one 
disk drive 
Sensible Software, $125 ... .:■ 



SPELL-IT 

Spell-It is a very inexpensive spelling checker de- 
signed to work with several of the popular word 
processing programs. WordStar, EasyWriter, Volk- 
swriter, and most other ASCII text editors are sup- 
ported. It uses the batch method for checking; that 
is, it creates a list of words it cannot find in its 
dictionaries. Once the list is created, you may 
either flag the words or correct them interactively. 

Spell-It has several dictionaries. The main one 
contains 41,000 words. There are smaller ones for 
proper names, contractions, and facilities for cre- 
ating up to ten of your own supplemental files. 
Spell-It is quite fast in batch checking. According 
to the manual, indexes and sub-indixes reduce the 
amount of disk accesses. Once the suspect words 
have been isolated in a file, Speil-lt offers a number 
of alternatives for handling them. You may leave 
them, change them in context, print or display 
them, or flag them in the file for later processing. 
The process of adding words to the dictionaries is 
very easy — just two keystrokes. 

Spell-It requires 64K RAM but needs additional 
memory to load the file. Although it is fast in batch- 
checking files, there may be times in checking files 
of less than five pages when one-step, interactive 
checkers may be faster. The thing that you can't 
beat with Spell-It is the price. It works well and at 
$29.95 it may be the best software bargain around. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 64K RAM, disk drive . 
Berzurk Systems, $29.95 



Word Processing Accessories 



187 



SPELL 'N FIX II 

^Spelling checkers are rare" for the Color Com- 
puter, but Star Kits' Spell 'N Fix II is a first-class 
product that competes in capabilities with spelling 
checkers for higher-priced systems. 

Spell 'N Fix II has a 20,000-word vocabulary. The 
user can add another 20,000 words to this or sub- 
stitute his or her own vocabulary geared to a tech- 
nical fieid or a foreign language. A 40,000-word 
dictionary is less that that of some other spelling 
checkers, but the emphasis on this program is not 
size, but accuracy. If. the user builds a dictionary 
carefully, 40,000 words are more than enough for 
any spelling checker. 

The program splits the screen display in two. The 
upper portion shows the text being read by Spell 
'N Fix, and the bottom, displays any misspelled 
words and lists the correct spellings. The user can 
leave the misspelled words alone or correct them. 
If the word does not appear in the program's dictio- 
nary, the user can add it. Spell 7V Fix also lets the 
user scan the program dictionary to find the cor- 
rect spelling. 

Spell 'N Fix //is easy to use. It prompts the user 
at every step. A reference manual is included with 
the program, but some users could iearn this spell- 
ing checker withoutwritten instructions. • 

•There are one or two other spelling checkers for 
the Color Computer, but none is better than Spell 
'N Fix II. 

Requirements: TRS-80 Color Computer 
Star Kits, $69.29 

SPELL WIZARD 

This is a standard spelling checker for Atari com- 
puters. With a dictionary of over 30,000 words, it 
compares favorably with its competition. : 

In proofreading a text file, the program counts all 
words in the file, displays a total of unique words, 
and then tallies and locates all words not found in 
either its basic dictionary or a supplementary dic- 
tionary supplied by the user. If any are found, the 
user may make corrections or tell the program to 
ignore them. 

It is also possible to search the dictionary for a 
correct spelling, using "wild card" letters for those 
parts of the spelling that are not. known. Other 
functions display or print out any portion of the 
dictionary. 

Spell Wizard is easy to use and can operate with 
files created by any word processing system or test 



editor. The dictionary is comprehensive enough for 
all but the most technical uses. For these, the user 
can add technical terms and proper nouns to a 
supplemental dictionary. 

Though inevitably not as fast as some spelling 
checkers for business-oriented computers, Spell 
Wizard does its job reasonably well and with a min- 
imum of fuss, and it is easy to learn. Atari users 
whose machine does word processing duty should 
at least give it a look. 
Requirements: Atari, 32K RAM, disk drive 
Datasoft, $49.95 : '••• . 

SPELLGUARD 

In 1981 /SpellGuard won Infoworld's Software of 
the Year award. The first of the modern spelling 
checkers, it remains probably the best of the pro- 
grams that do not correct at the time they find an 
error. Available on its own, it also comes free with 
SuperWriter and PeachText 5000. . 

Both versions of SpellGuard are menu-driven. 
When it checks, the program reports the number of 
words read, the number and percentage of unique 
words, the number and percent of words not found 
in the dictionary, and the percentage of proofing 
done. Another menu lets you check words alpha- 
betically. You can add words to a dictionary, mark 
wrong words, skip words, list words quickly, mark 
all at once without review, get help, or quit After 
checking, you return to the word processor and 
search for the marked words. Sup erWriter marks 
with a "?"; PeachText marks by replacing the last 
letter with a "[." SuperWriter's approach seems 
clearer. - •'='.'■ 

You can create and use special dictionaries, but 
must use just one dictionary at a time. If you have 
double-sided, -double-density diskettes, Super- 
Writer and the spelWng checker can goon the same 
diskettes. PeachText, in: contrast, directs you to 
store the two" programs on separate diskettes. 
SuperWriter's practice is much easier to use. ' '- ; 

Periodically, as you add to the main dictionary, it 
needs sorting. SpellGuard thoughtfully does that 
task for you automatically. 

Requirements: CP/M or MS-DOS, 64K RAM, one 
disk drive ■ 
ISA, $295 

SPELLSTAR 

SpeilStar 'is MicroPro's spelling checking pro- 
gram for WordStar. At the moment, two signifi- 



788 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



cantly different versions of the program are 
available. SpellStar 4.0 is the newest CP/M version. 
It is. the first release of SpellStar with a 55,000-word 
dictionary. This is a significant improvement over 
earlier releases, all of which suffered from having 
dictionaries with only 20,000 words. MicroPro will 
presumably add this larger dictionary to other ver- 
sions of the program as well, but as of this writing, 
the MS-DOS, PC-DOS, and CP/M-86 versions of the 
program are still limited to SpellStar 3.3, and are 
hamstrung by their extremely limited dictionaries. 

Aside from questions of dictionary size, SpellStar 
has some serious problems as a spelling checker. 
To begin with, it's clumsy to use. To start the pro- 
gram, you go to WordStar's opening menu and 
enter ! 'S." SpellStar takes you through a few preli- 
minaries in which you enter the name of the file to 
check and choose a few options to use. Give the 
program the go-ahead, and it will check the file, 
giving you a count of the number of words in the 
file, the number of different words, and the number 
of misspelled words. 

At that point the program stops and gives you 
another set of, choices. You can tell it to list the 
misspelled words, mark the errors in your text, or 
abandon the check. Tell SpellStar to go on, and it 
flags the errors. Then it stops again to give you the 
choice of correcting the errors now or saving the 
file to correct them later. There doesn't seem to be 
any point in stopping at either of these stages. It 
just forces you to hang around so you can hit the 
RETURN and tell the program to get on with it. 

These are minor annoyances. More important, 
even if you hit RETURN immediately both times, 
the program is slow. Using a 20,000-word version 
of SpellStar on a 7,200-word file, it took 4 minutes, 
27 seconds to run through the spelling check and 
flag the errors. Two other programs gave me times 
of 1 ;56 and 3:15. And neither of the other programs 
makes the user sit there and wait just to tell them to 
finish the job. 

; Another problem with SpellStar is that it is miss- 
ing at least one feature critical to any spelling 
checker — especially one that costs this much. The 
two programs that are faster than WordStar in 
checking a file will both let you look a word up in 
their own dictionaries. This will usually find the 
correct spelling for you, and even when it doesn't, 
it will often tell you whether a word is misspelled or 
simply missing from the program's vocabulary. 
With SpellStar, you're forced to go to a printed dic- 



tionary to check your spelling. This translates to 
much wasted time and effort in double-checking 
your spelling. 

Another way to look at it is that SpellStar isn't 
really a spelling checker. It's a "typo checker." If 
you're good at spelling, and can trust yourself to 
recognize and correct a typographical error when 
you see one, then SpellStar is probably adequate. 
If you want a program that will help you find and 
correct your spelling errors, though, look else- 
where. .-.•■■' 

Requirements: CP/M (2.0. or higher), 56K RAM; 
MS-DOS and PC-DOS, 64K RAM; CP/M-86, 80K 
RAM; 240K on one disk. The version of the Spell- 
Star overlay file must match the release of Word- 
Star beingused. (Note: CP/M version of WordStar 
3.3 uses SpellStar 4.0) 
MicroPro International, $250 : 

TALKING SPELLER 

Talking Speller is a versatile. drill-and-practice 
program easily adapted to a child's level of knowl- 
edge. The teacher or parent sets up the desired 
word list, and once assured that the spelling is cor- 
rect, records them onto a blank tape. The program 
then uses this tape in its drill, playing the voice 
back while prompting for the correct spelling. 

The student gets three chances to spell each 
word correctly. The program rewards correct an- 
swers with sound and an encouraging word. After 
an. incorrect response, the program displays the 
letters the student typed correctly, leaving spaces 
where he or she typed wrong letters. 
• Talking Speller keeps track of the student's per- 
formance and gives the number of correct answers 
with a percentage after the lesson. 

This is a simple program/but this fact is its main 
strength. Because it is simple, teachers and par- 
ents can easily adapt it to an individual child's 
needs. And at its simple price, it's hard to pass up. 
Requirements: TRS-80 Color Computer . 
Superior Graphic Software, $19.95 ... . 

TEXTPLUS 

TextPlus from Owl Software is designed to pro- 
duce iarge batches of personalized letters. The 
main functional components are a database and a 
word-processing system. Typically, the database is 
used to store names, addresses, and other particu- 
lars to be sorted and merged with a form letter. 
This gives you the ability to print hundreds of indi- 



Word Processing Accessories 



189 



vidually addressed letters with a few keystrokes. 
This ability is ideal for many businesses and asso- 
ciations, and TextPlus performs its stated functions 
well. However, this program lacks some functions 
in this area which would make it truly outstanding. 
Evaluated as separate programs, both the word- 
processing and database systems merit B ratings 
against their competition. For the price of $240, 
however, this package represents extremely good 
value. 

A typical mass -mailing begins with your database 
of names and addresses. TextPlus allows 1 ,000 rec- 
ords with up to 21 fields each, a maximum of 72 
bytes per field, and a maximum record length of 
253 characters. Operating from the "Change/View 
File" mode, it is easy to display, change, and sort 

fUeS. ■ ::.-..■:■. 

The. next step it to create the form letter. The 
word processing portion of TextPlus has the stan- 
dard functions, including headers/footers, page 
numbering, centering, underlining and move copy. 
One significant feature is the ability to select multi- 
ple typestyles. Implementation here is a mixed bag. 
TextPlus makes extensive use of function keys, re- 
ducing keystrokes. However, embedded formatting 
commands are awkward. To underline the word 
"title,": for example, you key "ui = title." Under- 
lined, bold text does not appear as such on the 
screen. Text is not continuously formatted; you 
must enter a format command, then wait several 
seconds.- ■■.■■..■:'■■ 

Once form letter and database are entered, the 
next step is to select/sort the data and merge to 
print. This process is quite simple and effective. 
You can produce fetters and labels with ease. What 
would make this part truly outstanding is a condi- 
tional-merge feature. Most name and address files 
have "Address 1". and "Address 2" fields. Fre- 
quently, "Address 2" is blank. Some systems allow 
you to instruct the program, "IF ADDRESS 2 IS 
BLANK, DON'T PRINT A BLANK LINE." With Text- 
Plus, you have to do more individual sort/selects 
on the file. 

Other nice features include card-file creation, 
two-bin printer support for simultaneous printing 
of letters and envelopes, and extensive arithmetic 
functions for data-file reports. Documentation 
ranks high as a tutorial but is only adequate as a 
reference. Even though the word-processing sec- 
tion of TextPlus suffers from formatting weak- 
nesses, it is functionally complete; The data-file 



section is good and the ability to merge the two 

make TextPlus very useful for personalized letter/ 

label applications. 

Requirements: IBM PC, Columbia, or Compaq, 

64K RAM or 128K RAM, depending on version, disk 

drive ■ 

Owl Software Corp., $240 -•:•■. ■■/■-. . . 

THE DIC-TION-ARY 

THE Dic-tion-ary is a spelling checker designed 
for use with many Apple word-processing pro- 
grams. Marketed as a companion product for 
Screenwriter II, it works with Pie Writer, Apple 
Writer 1, Apple Writer II, Superscribe, Text Power, 
and Word Handler, plus other word processors that 
use standard DOS 3.3 text files. 

THE Dic-tion-ary comes with two disks. One con- 
tains the program itself, which is copy protected; 
the other is the Wordbook containing the 28,000 
word dictionary. (A backup copy of the program is 
one the flip side of the Wordbook disk.) Up to 2,500 
words may be added to each copy of your Word- 
book, thereby creating specific dictionary disks for 
different applications. Adding and deleting single 
words or lists of words is easily accomplished, and 
you. can list the entire dictionary on a printer— 
though you'd better have lots of power. 

The program may be used with either one or-two 
disk drives, but as the case with many other dictio- 
nary programs, single-disk systems require exten- 
sive disk swapping between the Wordbook and 
your text files. ••••.•,.•.•':■=■=."■■■■■■.■;■ 

Menu driven, the program has several options. In 
the. n on interactive mode, the unknown or mis-. 
spelled words are sent to the printer. This option is 
rather slow and involves a great amount of disk 
access, but you may let the processing go on unat- 
tended. ■ ":■■, ■■;■-.'■ ■■;. 

In the interactive mode, the suspect words are 
shown in context within a two-line window at the 
top of the screen. You have a choice of ignoring 
the words, marking them as misspelled, adding 
them to the dictionary, correcting the spelling on 
the display, or searching the Wordbook for the cor- 
rect spelling and then overtyping your misspelled 
word to correct it. Very slow, it took approximately 
12 minutes to process a file of 863 words contain- 
ing just a few errors. 

The word-frequency-analysis option, while not 
.allowing you to correct your document or see 
where misspelled words occur, has the advantage 



190 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



of being much faster in processing especially when 
the document is longer than three pages. This op- 
tion displays or prints in alphabetical order all the 
unique words found in the text along with a count 
of the frequency of usage of each word. You may 
elect to list either all the words or just the suspect 
words. Words not found in the Wordbook are 
marked with an "*." Listed also is both a total word 
count and a count of the unique words. 

In processing text files, THE Dic~tion~ary reads a 
portion of the file from one disk and then searches 
the Wordbook for the words on the other disk, as- 
suming that you have two drives. This causes a 
considerable amount of disk access and track 
searching. When changing from one menu option 
to another, the program disk must be interchanged 
each time with the Wordbook disk, it is too bad the 
entire program could not be loaded into memory at 
once. One strong point is that there is no limit to 
the size of the file that can be processed. 
"Although one of the less expensive spelling 
checkers, this program is of questionable value 
considering the time it takes to process longer doc- 
uments. 

Requirements: Apple II, II + , lie, or Apple III in em- 
ulation only mode, DOS 3.3, Applesoft BASIC, one 
disk drive 
Sierra On-Line, $99.95 \. ' 

VISISPELL 

VisiSpell is a one-step, interactive spelling 
checker. Designed primarily to work with VisiWord, 
VisiCorp's word processing program, it is compati- 
ble with DOS text files. It employs a dual-dictionary 
look-up system. The first dictionary, of 15,000 com- 
monly used Words, is loaded into memory. The sec- 
ond, a master dictionary, contains about 100,000 
words and remains on the disk ready to be con- 
sulted if a word is not found in the first dictionary. 
The first dictionary, labeled "Personal," can be 
customized by the addition of your own words. 
Moreover, you can create several different per- 
sonal dictionaries, useful if you work with different 
types of textual materials. 



After the persona! dictionary is loaded, VisiSpell 
scans your text. When words cannot be found in 
either dictionary, VisiSpell displays the suspect 
word in reverse-video in 1 2 lines of the context. The 
bottom of the screen displays the word as it was 
typed along with VisiSpell's best guess as to the 
word you really wanted. Options include another 
search, leave the word unchanged, mark the text, 
and type your own word. VisiSpell also capitalizes 
its alternative words if your original one was capi- 
talized. Repeats ("I I") are also found. ■-.'■'■■= 

VisiSpell is reasonably fast and allows for quick 
addition of your own words to the personal dictio- 
nary. It would be nice if multiple alternative spell- 
ings were displayed rather than having you search 
one at a time. For large files* you may want to con- 
sider two-step, batch checkers that will isolate all 
the suspect-words before requiring your attention. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, two disk drives 
VisiCorp, $225 



WORDY 

Wordiness is a common condition among many 
writers. Unnecessary words make your manu- 
scripts confusing and boring, causing readers to 
tire easily. Wordy is a set of programs designed to 
make one aware of common forms of wordiness 
and to help develop a more concise style of writing. 
it consists of eight lessons; each takes about ten 
minutes to complete. Wrong answers are pre- 
sented again, and a percentage score is given as 
each is finished. 

Combined with imaginative graphics, topics cov- 
ered are circumlocution redundancy, "it is" con- 
structions, weakening intenslfiers, unnecessary 
"is" and "are" forms, vague expressions, preten- 
tious diction, and elaborate construction. Supplied 
on three diskettes, Wordy will appeal to both stu- 
dents and professional writers who wish to im- 
prove their style. 

Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
or lie, 488K RAM, disk drive 
COMpress,$100 • • 



191 



CDOfianuruicATiorus 



One of the first things most people learn about 
computer communications is that knowing 
about computers doesn't help much when it comes 
to trying to understand communications programs. 
The problem is that communications is an entirely 
different field, complete with its own concepts and 
language. Computer communications is a hybrid. 
You've probably already learned much of the com- 
puter side of it. Here is a primer for the communi- 
cations side. 

TERMINALS: 

For most communications applications, you 
have to turn your computer into a terminal. Termi- 
nals come in two basic varieties: dumb and smart. 
A dumb terminal program will ignore most of your 
computer's abilities, leaving you with a keyboard 
for sending information and a screen for receiving 
it. A smart terminal program will give you a much 
wider range of possibilities. At a very minimum, a 
smart terminal program will give you features of a 
dumb terminal plus the ability both to send infor- 
mation that is stored on disk or tape, and to save 
incoming information to disk or tape. 

We need two bits of jargon here. Sending a file is 
known as uploading that file. Receiving a file is 
known as downloading. A minimal smart terminal 
program will turn uploading and downloading into 
a clumsy, two-step procedure. To send information 
you first load it into your computer's memory, then 
send it to your modem. To save information, you 
receive it in your computer's memory, then send it 
to disk or tape. In most cases this means that you 
won't be able to send or receive files that are 
longer than can fit in your computer's memory. A 
smarter program will sidestep this limitation by let- 
ting you upload or download directly from or di- 
rectly to disk or tape. For pur purposes, we can 
think of these smarter programs as "standard' V 
smartterminal programs. 

COMMUNICATION PARAMETERS: 

For two computers to communicate with each 
other, they have to be co-ordinated with each 
other. More technically, they have to be using the 
same set of parameters. Since different systems 
use different parameters, it's important that even 
the simplest dumb terminal program gives you 
some control over parameter settings. The two 
most common parameters that you will find con- 



trolled by software are baud rate and duplex set- 
ting.. ....;, 

BAUD RATE: 

Baud rate is a measure of the speed of communi- 
cations. There are several standard baud rates, 
with 110 baud, 300 baud, and 1200 baud being the 
three most common. The speeds you can use are 
determined almost entirely by your hardware, and 
particularly by your modem, the gadget that lets 
your computer talk over the phone lines. Whatever 
speed is being used, though, has to be the same on 
both sides of the conversation. Typically, you can 
change the speed that your computer is using by 
opening it up, finding the proper switch, and 
changing its setting. Obviously, it's much more 
convenient to change the setting by telling your 
terminal program to do it for you. Not alt computers 
will let you control your baud rate through softr 
ware, but if your computer has that capability, you 
will want your communications program to have it 
too. 

DUPLEX SETTING: 

This is actually a misnomer. In communications 
jargon, duplex simply means two-way communica- 
tions. Full-duplex means that both sides can talk at 
the same time, as with telephones. Half-duplex 
means that each side has to wait for the other to 
finish first, as with CB radio. With computer com- 
munications, the nature of the conversation — full 
or half duplex— is determined completely by the 
hardware that you are using. Most computer com- 
munications though is strictly full-duplex. This al- 
lows for a feature called echoplex. : 

If the computer that you are talking to is using 
echoplex, then each time you send a character, the 
computer will echo it, or send it back to you. When 
the character shows up on your screen, it automat- 
ically confirms that the other computer received it 
correctly. If the other computer isn't echoing you, 
however, you won't see anything on your screen. In 
that case, you'll want your modem or software to 
put the character on the screen instead. Logically, 
the choice in settings here should be called "re- 
mote echo" and "local echo." They almost never 
are. "Remote echo" is usually called "full-duplex." 
"Local echo" is usually called "half-duplex." Even 
in the half-duplex .setting, though, you're usually 
engaged in full-duplex communications. 

Most modems have a full-duplex/half-duplex set- 



192 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ting of their own, but some do not If your modem 
is full-duplex only, then it becomes important to 
have this feature in your software. Even if your 
modem lets you change the duplex setting, it's usu- 
ally more convenient to change it with software. 

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: 

If you want more than rock-bottom, basic com- 
munications, you should be aware that there are 
any number of features available in various pro- 
grams. Many of these simply make the process of 
communications more convenient. Others give you 
additional powers that you may or may not need. 
The convenience features first: 

AUTOMATIC DIALING: ^ 

Some programs will let you create a phone direc- 
tory for your most commonly dialed numbers. This 
feature assumes you have a modem that's capable 
of automatic dialing. Typically the program will let 
you enter enough digits so you can call though a 
carrier like Sprint or MCI and even add commands 
to your modem to switch between pulse and tone 
dialing as appropriate. Dialing then becomes a sim- 
ple matter of choosing a name or number from a 
list, or entering the label that you've listed the num- 
berunder. ■ ■ 

AUTOMATIC LOG-ON: 

If most of your communications are with online 
systems— meaning anything from a small bulletin 
board to a major information utility— you'l! find 
that having to spend time logging-on to these sys- 
tems becomes a minor irritant. Many programs will 
let you store the log-on sequence, with or without 
your password and will automatically take care of 
this chore for you. This feature will also take you 
through the log-on procedure much faster, since 
the computer can "type" faster than you do. "■'. 

PARAMETER FILES OR BATCH FILES: 

Many programs will let you create parameter 
files. As the name implies, any given file contains 
one set of parameters. You can create as many sets 
as you need, then load all the parameters into your 
program at once, rather than having to set each 
parameter separately each time you make a call. If 
the program has automatic dialing and automatic 
log-on, the parameter file will often include the 
phone number and log-on sequence. 

Batch files give you much the same capability as 



parameter files. The difference is not in what they 
will do for you, but in how they are created. Param- 
eter files are typically created from menu selec- 
tions built-into the program. Batch files generally 
are created by a word processor or text editor, and 
take the form of a series of commands to the pro- 
gram. Batch files are often more flexible in terms of 
what they will let you do, but before you can use 
them you have to team the program's command 
language. 

Some programs have neither. parameter files nor 
batch files. As long as these programs are not. copy 
protected, you can still get much the same effect 
by creating several different versions of the. com- 
mand file, and saving each one to disk under, a 
different name. The only drawback to this .ap- 
proach is that it uses up much more disk space, V. 

Features that give you additional capabilities, as 
opposed to additional convenience,, tend to ,be 
more. technical. Here are some of the more com- 
mon ones: . 

ERROR CHECKING PROTOCOLS: 

Telephone lines are noisy. Every now and then 
they will make a noise that the receiving computer 
will interpret as a character. If you are dealing with 
text files only, you cap usually tolerate an occa^ 
slonal error of this sort. If you are dealing with 
command files you cannot. With command fijes, 
you generally won't even be able to tell there is an 
error until it shows up as a bug in the program. 
Error checking protocols help prevent that by au- 
tomatically double-checking the transmission. Dif- 
ferent programs use different error checking 
protocols, and both sides of a conversation have to 
be using the same protocols in order to talktpeach 
Other. .... '..■ . '" : : . ... ■ ' V '..';■ ■ 

One common error-checking protocol is often 
known as the Ward Christensen protocol, after the 
man who wrote it. It is also known by other names. 
Including the CPMUG protocol (for CP/M User's 
Group), and the XMODEM or the MODEM7 proto- 
col (for two of the programs that use it). This proto- 
col is widespread, in large part, because it is -in 
public domain. You will find it on most CP/M-based 
bulletin boards and many other bulletin boards as 
wellJ . "■'■ ■'■-" . ■:■■■:■'■■' 

Much commercial software includes the Chris- 
tensen protocol, often in addition to one or more 
proprietary protocols. The proprietary protocol in 
such cases is usually easier to use, but the Chris- 



Communications 



193 



tensen protocol has the advantage of letting you 
exchange files with another system even if you are 
not both running. the. same program. A word of 
warning, though. Precisely because programs like 
XMODEM and MODEM? are in public domain, 
there is no way-tp guarantee that the protocol .-re- 
mains -entirely consistent from revision to revision. 
It's quite possible to have two programs said to use 
the Christensen protocol that will not work with 
each other. Keep that in mind if you run into a 
problem when trying to exchange files.. -. ■■■■: ; . .■■:. 

X-ON/X-OFF PROTOCOL: 

If you are downloading a file that's longer than 
can fit into your computer's memory, it's important 
to have some way to tell the other computer to stop 
and wait while your system frees up its memory by 
writing the current information to disk. The stan- 
dard trick for this. is called the X-On/X-Off protocol. 
When the system that's doing the downloading 
runs out of memory, it sends the X-Off signal to tell 
the other computer to wait When it's ready for 
more information, it. sends the X-On signal to tell 
the uploading system to start sending again. 

TRANSLATING OR FILTERING OUT 
CHARACTERS: 

ji Occasionally, you will find that the system you 
are online with is sending control codes that are 
interfering with communications in some way. Typ- 
ically these control codes are meant to work with 
some specific terminal or piece of software. If you 
are using some other terminal or software, they 
may have no effect. If they do have an effect, 
though, it is likely to be undesirable. Under these 
conditions, it is useful either to translate the incom- 
ing control, codes so they will have the desired ef- 
fect: or to filter them out entirely. In general; the 
more sophisticated your program, the more likely it 
is to need this capability, and the more likely it Is to 
have it. :...■■■: ;..■■:■: 

TERMINAL EMULATION: 

All communications programs are terminal emu- 
lators in the sense, that they make your computer 
act like a terminal, but the terminal they are emulat- 
ing is a very limited teletypewriter, which the host 
computer can control only on a line-by-line basis. 
Some programs will make your computer act like a 
specific terminal— -a Hazeltine 1500, a DEC VT52, 
and an ADM 3A are three common examples. The 



advantage here is that some computers are pro- 
grammed so they can control specific terminals on 
a full-screen basis rather than one line at a time. 
This.opens up the possibilities for full-screen text 
editing or even graphics if the host system is pro- 
grammed for it. . : 

SPECIALIZED FEATURES: 

Some communications programs provide spe- 
cific capabilities that put them beyond being sim- 
ple terminal programs. You can, for example, find 
programs that send and receive electronic mail. 
Typically this means being able to enter the mes- 
sages/to send, along with instructions about who 
to send therri to and when, then leaving it to the 
computer to do the work. Some programs will let 
you set up your own computerized bulletin board 
so that others can post and read messages. Still 
other programs have special features tied to spe- 
cific online systems. VisiLink, for example, is de- 
signed specifically to work with the databases of 
Data Resources, inc. It will let you download "data 
kits" In VisiCalc format, so that you can then ma- 
nipulate the data with VisiCalc. A few programs are 
designed to let you the Telex I or Telex II networks, 
or other specialized systems, such as the deaf net- 
work.^ "'■' " ; ;;: ;■";■; ' : ' i; ;"; : ' 

All this is no more than an overview. As with most 
things that deal with computers, the overriding 
reality is that. computers are infinitely flexible. Still, 
we've touched on all the basics— enough so that 
this qualifies as a fair introduction to the subject, 
and is certainly enough to prepare you to look at 
some specific programs.# 

ABBS (APPLE BULLETIN BOARD 

SYSTEM) ...;av : :.- : H^ 

ABBS is not a terminal emulation program. 
Rather, it will let you set up your own bulletin board 
using your Apple II as the host computer for others 
to call. ABBS is easy to use; in fact, except for a 
simple installation ; procedure, it is basically a 
hands-off system. Even, the installation is done 
through a series of questions and answers instead 
of through the complex programming that some 
other bulletin board systems require. ^ , 

ABBS is written primarily in Applesoft BASIC, 
with several machine language subroutines added 
to enhance performance. Using machine language 
leads to several important advantages, not the least 



194 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



of which is the ability to operate at 1200 baud as 
well as at 300 baud. 

As a bulletin board system ABBS is a full-fea- 
tured communications tool that can be installed 
with a variety of options. The simplest form of the 
program uses a single "message tree," or bulletin 
board. You can add more message trees by adding 
new conference modules. 

Other features include an upload and download 
module that will let your Apple send or receive both 
program files and ASCII files. The autolog feature 
lets the system record and store information about 
first-time callers. Once callers have left the infor- 
mation, they need only enter their names to gain 
access to the system. A privacy module can also be 
added. This restricts the message area of the sys- 
tem, making it available only to those individuals 
who have the correct password. ; 

Software Sorcery recommends that your system 
include a storage device larger than the standard 
Apple II drive. Even this drive, though, with its 140K 
of storage, can handle up to 1,700. 72-character 
lines of text 

ABBS supports a variety of serial interfaces and 
modems for the Apple, but it requires that the 
modem make use of the carrier detect (DCD) and 
terminal ready (DTR) lines of the RS-232 serial port. 
To function as part of a bulletin board system, the 
modem must also be able to work in an auto-an- 
swer mode. 

Requirements: Apple II or II + , one disk drive' 
Software Sorcery, $74.95 to $164.95 depending on 
how many modules are included 

ASC II EXPRESS "THE 
PROFESSIONAL"; P-TERM "THE 
PROFESSIONAL"; Z-TERM "THE 
PROFESSIONAL" 

This trio of smart-terminal programs for the 
Apple II are sold by Southwestern Data Systems, 
and are known collectively as The Professional Se- 
ries. All -three were written, in part at least, by the 
same individual: Bill Blue. All three have similar 
capabilities. The most important difference be- 
tween them is the operating system they run under. 

ASC II Express "The Professional," or AE Pro, 
runs under Apple DOS 3.3. P-Term "The Profes- 
sional" and Z-Term "The Professional," are also 
known as P-Pro and Z-Pro, P-Pro runs under UCSD 
Pascal. Z-Pro runs under Microsoft CP/M. 



When dealing with a computer like the Apple, the 
first question to ask of any program is whether it is 
compatible with the particular cards that you have 
in your machine. As of this writing, A E-Pro is the 
most recently revised of the Professional series, 
and SDS claims that it will support all current 
Apple-compatible modems, serial cards, and 80- 
column cards. P-Term and Z-Term will also support 
a wide variety of possibilities, but make sure you 
check before buying. 

The programs in the Professional series have all 
the features and flexibility you would expect in a 
sophisticated smart-terminal program. To save in- 
coming information, for example, you have three 
choices, depending on the situation and what kind 
of file is involved. 

First, you can simply capture information in 
memory as you receive it then save it to a disk file 
at any time. This lets you do a rough edit as you go 
by turning the memory buffer on and off. 

A second choice lets you automatically save the 
incoming information to disk. Each time the mem- 
ory buffer is filled, the program sends an X-Off 
character to the transmitting computer, then saves 
the memory to disk. Each save produces a new disk 
file. With AE Pro, this option lets you save files that 
are longer than can fit. on your disk. If you run out 
of disk space, AE Pro {but not P-Pro or Z-Pro) will 
tell you about it and let you change disks. . 

Either of these options is appropriate for down- 
loading text files. A third choice on ail three pro- 
grams will let you download programs with full 
error checking. The Professional series uses the 
public-domain Christensen protocol, the most 
common error-checking method in microcomputer 
communications. By virtue of using it, the Profes- 
sional series can exchange programs with the larg- 
est possible number of other communications 
programs. 

The programs offer similar flexibility in other fea- 
tures: You can send a file directly from disk with or 
without error-checking protocols. You can turn 
your printer on or off at any time. You can review 
the information currently in your memory, in a kind 
of instant replay of the conversation. You can also 
turn the printer on and have the "replay" printed. If 
the other computer is sending control codes that 
interfere with communications, you 'can set the 
program to filter themout. 

The programs in the Professional series also 
offer most of the convenience features you might 



Communications 



195 



hope for in a communications program. AE Pro's 
disk commands give you a list of files on your disk 
and will let you view or delete a file. P-Pro and Z- 
Pro, with different operating systems, will give you 
a list of disk files and will let you view a fife or log- 
on to another disk. Ail three programs will let 
you toggle between full and half duplex, and all 
three will control baud rate for you, if the commu- 
nications card in your Apple can be software 
controlled. AE-Pro (but not P-Pro or Z~pro) 
also includes a primitive, one- iine-at-a-time text 
editor that will let you edit the information in your 
memory buffer before sending it out or saving it 
to disk.. ; '■■-■ 

The auto-dial and auto-Iog-on features are par- 
ticularly noteworthy for their flexibility. With auto- 
dial, you can enter a number either from the key- 
board or from the program's directory of up to 26 
numbers. If the number is busy, you can redial with 
a single keystroke. You can also tell the program to 
redial an arbitrary number of times, or to redial 
indefinitely until it gets an answer. When it does, it 
will tell you about it by making your Apple beep at 
you. 

The auto-log-on feature will actually; do much 
more than just log-on to a system. You can set the 
program up so it will dial asystem, ask for some 
specific information, save that information to disk, 
log off, and hang up the phone. You might want to 
use this with an information utility such as Dow 
Jones to download the current prices on your stock 

'portfolio. :'■■•.■■■.■■: = .': • 

One last, important communications feature, is 
terminal emulation. AE-Pro comes with conversion 
tables to make your Apple emulate about a dozen 
different terminals. These include the Hazeltine 
1500 or 1510, the IBM 3101, the ADM-3A, and the 
DEC VT52. If you need to mimic some other termi- 
nal, AE-Pro will let you custom-design your own 
terminal emulation table., P-Pro and Z-Pro provide 
fewer conversion tabiesfor you, but they wilt still 
let you custom design your own. 

This doesn't exhaust the list of features of the 
Professional series by any means, but it should 
give you a sense of the power and flexibility built 
into these programs. The^one danger in any such 
program is that the number of features available 
may overwhelm the new user. Fortunately, the ef- 
fort : that went into designing these programs 
wasn't all directed at adding extra features. A fair 
amount, of It was aimed at making the programs 



understandable and usable, even for a communi- 
cations novice. .... 

This shows both in the programs themselves, 
and in the instruction manuals. The programs con- 
tain. menus that you can askior if you need them or 
ignore if you don't. The manuals are intelligently 
divided into sections, some suitable for the novice, 
some for the more advanced user. Most important, 
a "Getting Started" section in. all' three manuals 
eases you into learning the program, beginning 
with such basics as reminding you to make a work- 
ing copy of the disk and store the distribution disk 
safely away. -■ ■■ 

There is no question that the Professional series 
includes three of the most sophisticated programs 
for the Apple II. Beginners "will find them easy to 
learn, easy to use, and hard to grow out of. Ad- 
vanced users will find that the programs will do 
nearly everything they could ask for. 
Requirements: Apple II, l! + , lie, or compatible ma- 
chine; 48K RAM; AE Pro, DOS 3.3; P-Pro, UCSD 
Pascal and language card; Z-Pro, Microsoft Z-80 ' 
Softcard Southwestern Data Systems, AE Pro or P- 
Pro $129.95; Z-Pro $149.95 



ASCOM 

This sophisticated smart-terminal program has 
enough features to handle virtually any reasonable 
communications task, and quite a few unreason- 
able ones as well. With a total of 72 commands, 
plus the ability to let you enter those commands 
either manually or through batch files, it will do 
almost anything you need in interactive communi- 
cations. ■ ■ ■.-■■'■■■■ ; - 

ASCOM offers all standard smart-terminal func- 
tions and gives maximum flexibility in their use. 
You can capture information in the memory buffer 
then save it to disk manually, or you can set the 
program to save to disk automatically whenever 
the memory is full. You can also send and receive 
files directly to and from disk, with or without error 
checking, if you are using protocols, you have a 
choice of which to use. One choice is the wide- 
spreadj public-domain Christensen protocol. Its in- 
clusion means that AS COM will let you exchange 
files with other microcomputer users as possible. 

Convenience features In ASCOM include auto- 
matic dialing, automatic log-on, and control over 
your computer's baud rate, unless your system re- 
quires manual switching. You can display your disk 



196 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



directory, delete files, rename files, and display 
files, all without leaving the program. ■'■ 

A welcome novelty is the Run command, which 
will let you leave ASCOM, run some other program, 
then automatically return you to ASCOM when it's 
done. This raises some interesting possibilities. 
For example, ASCOM has no way to tell you how 
much room is left on your disk; the Run command 
lets you run the Stat utility and find out anyway. A 
simple carriage return puts you back into ASCOM. 
You can just as easily go to your word processor, 
quickly create or edit a file with full word process- 
ing capabilities, then jump back into ASCOM to 
send it. .■■■■■■ 

;■'- Some of ASCOM's more sophisticated features 
include the capability for unattended operation 
and the capability for remote operation by another 
computer. You will also find "translation tables" 
that let you translate incoming and outgoing char- 
acters and "ignore tables" that will let you filter out 
characters that may be interfering with communi- 
cations. "■'■- "■■■■"■■ 

' /ASCOM's one failing is that it may ask too much 
of the communications novice, it was originally de- 
signed as a strictly command-based program for 
people who knew what they were doing. As a re- 
sult, very little effort was made to help "the new- 
comer. The most recent version tries to correct that 
oversight by including a menu mode as well as the 
command mode. This helps considerably, but there 
is stiil much room for improvement. The manual 
suffers the same probjem. It is an excellent, and 
unusually accurate, reference but contains almost 
no introductory or tutorial material. ="■•■■ ■■■ 

Aside from the possible difficulty in learning the 
program, I've yet to hear of any serious problems 
with it. If you're looking for a communications pro- 
gram that you won't soon outgrow, you may well 
find it in ASCOM. 

Requirements: CP/M, CP/M-86, MS-DOS, or PC- 
DOS; 48K RAM 
Dynamic Microprocessor Associates, $180 

THE BENCHMARK 
TELECOMMUNICATIONS PROGRAM 

This program is misnamed. Far from being a full 
featured telecommunications program, it is a nar- 
rowly focused, file transfer program providing little 
in the way of interactive communications capabili- 
ties. Even the file transfer function is limited. It will 
work only with another copy of .The Benchmark 



Telecommunications Program. In exchange for its 
limitations, the program provides.an important fea- 
ture that you will not often find. You can send and 
receive messages to the person working with the 
other system while files are being transferred. Sim- 
ply type them in. They'll show up on the screen at 
the other end, without being copied to disk. 

Using this program is simpie enough. First, you 
either connect two computers directly through a 
cable or establish communications by modem. You 
then tell one computer to send a file and the other 
to receive it. The systems do as they've been told, 
putting messages on their screens to to keep you 
posted on their progress. When the file has been 
transferred, the message on both sides is "Opera- 
tion Complete," All files are sent and received with 
full error checking, which makes the program suit- 
able for sending command files as well as text files. 
The program will also give you full control of baud 
rate, if your system allows for it. 

Don't mistake this for a terminal program. It's 
not. However, if you a good file transfer program to 
shuttle files between two computers, you might like 
to take a look at this one. 

Requirements: PC-DOS, CP/M, MP/M, or MS-DOS 
(pre-configured for specific machines) 
Benchmark Software, $150 

CHAMELEON 

This program was written by a student at MIT 
who was too lazy to leave his room to walk to a 
computer terminal elsewhere on campus. The re- 
sult is one of the most sophisticated smart-terminal 
programs available for the Atari. 

Chameleon's most striking feature is terminal 
emulation. As shipped, the program will emulate a 
DEC VT-52 or a Lear Siegler ADM-3A as a simple 
menu choice. Each of these emulation modes has 
some limitations when compared to the real thing, 
but the limitations are relatively minor. The impor- 
tant point is that if the computer you're talking to 
knows how to deal with either of these terminals, 
Chameleon will let it control your Atari on a full- 
screen basis. For host systems that can't take ad- 
vantage of Chameleon's emulation modes, the pro- 
gram also has a menu choice called GLASS TTY. 
This turns your Atari into a standard, one-line-at-a- 
time terminal, a "glass teletypewriter" ■ ;:,v 

Terminal emulation may be Chameleon's most 
conspicuous capability, but it is far from the only 
one. Other important features include the ability to 



Communications 



197 



send files directly from or directly to disk or tape, 
with or without the widespread' Christensen error- 
checking protocol. This means that file transfer is 
not limited by the size of your memory buffer. 

The manual, like most manuals for Atari pro- 
grams, has a strong hobbyist flavor to it and may 
tell you more about the nuts and bolts details than 
you really want to know. Given the approach, the 
manual is welt written and useful, but don't expect 
it to serve as an introduction to communications in 
general. It is written for those who already have 
some familiarity with terminals and with online sys- 
tems. Others may have to struggle a bit to get 
through it 

Requirements: Atari computer, 850 interface, cas- 
sette version; 24K RAM, disk version, 32K RAM. 
ATARI Program Exchange, $24.95 . 

CONECT 

Most CP/M programs are designed to run on vir- 
tually any machine that will run the CP/M operating 
system. Conect, from Vector Graphic, is designed 
to run on the firm's own machines. Because it is 
tailored to the specific machines, it solves certain 
problems that most communications programs 
have when running on some models of Vector 
computers. 

Conect is a standard smart-terminal program. It 
can capture information and save it to disk, and 
can upload files directly from disk or download 
them directly to disk. Features include auto-dial, 
the ability to emulate a Hazeltine 1500 terminal, 
and full support of any modem that uses Hayes 
protocols. Parameter files give you control over a 
fair number of parameters, including baud rate. 
This is particularly nice for Vector 3 users, since 
the baud rate in that system has only a limited kind 
of software control, not used by most communica- 
tions programs. ■■ . 

MDne nice touch in interactive mode is that the 
program provides a help screen that 'also functions 
as a menu. The screen lists the commands to send 
a file, turn the printer on and off, and start or stop 
capturing information. You can make any of these 
choices at any time, without leaving interactive 
mode. You can also turn the menu off once you 
know the commands. 

Conect will also let you use your Vector 3 at 1200 
baud for interactive communications. With most 
terminal programs the Vector screen can't keep up 
at 1200 baud and will drop characters. This is built 



into the hardware. Conect takes the design into 
account, and eliminates the problem. For this fea- 
ture alone, Conect is worth having if you own a 
Vector 3. 

Requirements: Vector Graphic computers only 
Vector Graphic, $150 

CROSSTALK, CROSSTALK XVI 

Crosstalk and Crosstalk XVI share the same 
name and a few of the same basic capabilities. 
Both are from Microstuf, and both are smart termi- 
nal programs. Do not confuse them, though. They 
aretwo very different pieces of software. . 

Crosstalk XVI is one of the most sophisticated 
communications programs available. The XVI part 
of the name is significant. This program was writ- 
ten specifically to run under MS-DOS on 16-bit sys- 
tems. It requires a minimum of 96K RAM, and is 
designed to make full use of the extra memory. It 
comes In several versions for specific machines, 
including the IBM PC. 

Crosstalk is a less sophisticated program. It is 
available in various versions that run on most 8- or 
16-bit computers under a variety of operating sys- 
tems. The program was designed to work within 
the limits of an 8-bit system. The 16-bit version is a 
straightforward conversion, and carries with it 
most of the limitations of the 8-bit version. 

This review is based primarily on Crosstalk XVI. - 

The manual for Crosstalk XVI is reasonably well- 
designed, but it could have used a little more work. 
In particular, the sample screens are in the right 
places and show you what you need to know, but 
you may need a magnifying glass to read them. 
Despite this and some other minor oversights, the 
manual will give you most of the information you 
need, including some important points about in- 
stalling your modem. 

Probably the nicest thing about this program is 
the way you interact with it. With most commands 
you have the choice of stepping through them with 
a series of prompts, bypassing the prompts if you 
already know what's needed, or asking for further 
explanations at each step, All this translates to 
maximum ease of use for the new user and maxi- 
mum efficiency for the experienced user. 

Crosstalk XVI has all the features you would ex- 
pect in a sophisticated smart terminal program, be- 
ginning with the ability to capture information and 
save it to disk, and the ability to send and receive 
files directly to and from disk. For protocol file 



198 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



transfer, it gives you the choice between MODEM7 
protocoi and Microstuf s own proprietary protocol. 
When using the proprietary protocol, Crosstalk XVI 
is compatible with Crosstalk. The program also al- 
lows for remote operation with password protec- 
tion: It will answer the phone, ask you for a 
password, then allow you to control it from a re- 
mote location. Other features include terminal em- 
ulation. Crosstalk XVI, but not Crosstalk, can 
emulate the Teievideo 910/920 series, the IBM 
3101, the Adds Viewpoint, the DEC VT-100 and VT- 
52,. and the Texas Instruments 940. 

Finally, Crosstalk XVI will- let you create batch 
files. Microstuf divides these into "command files" 
and "script files." The command files are simply 
parameter files that include the information for 
auto-dialing, auto-log-on, characters to filter out, 
and settings for various communications param- 
eters. The script files can be much more involved. 
As with batch files in other programs, you can use 
a script file to create what amounts toa program. 
The Crosstalk XVI language is particularly rich, 
with. more than 70 commands to choose from. ' 

This is one program that is suitable for both the 
rank beginner and the most advanced user. It may 
be possible to outgrow it, but it's not at all clear 
what you might move up to. 

Requirements: 9.6K RAM; IBM PC or PC-compati- 
ble with PC DOS 1.10 or 2.00; Hyperion, Eagle 
1 600, Tl Professional, Toshiba T-300, Seequa . 
Microstuf, $195 

DATALINK 

-Datalink is a standard smart terminal program 
for the Apple II. As with any such program, Datalink 
will let you capture information and save it to disk, 
and will let you transfer files to or from disk. It has 
a fair number of features, but the most notabie 
thing about this program is that it is written in Pas- 
cal.- . 

This is notable because the programmers who 
wrote Datalink chose to imitate the standard Pas- 
cal menu display throughout the program. This 
means putting the entire menu on a single line, 
with the first letter of each command followed by a 
left parenthesis, foilowed by as much of the actual 
commands as will fit. As is true of the actual Pascal 
menus, this makes the menu ugly and difficult to 
read. :'■■'■;■'■. i ;:-.-.■ .-._ ■■.- 

If you can get past the menus, you will find that 
Datalink is a reasonably full-featured program with 



a fair range of capabilities. These include auto-dial 
and auto-log-on. One nice touch is that the pro- 
gram's telephone directory lets you store commu- 
nications parameters along with each phone 
number. Trie program will also let you print infor- 
mation as it comes in, but only at 300 baud. At 1200 
baud you not only lose this capability, but run into 
another problem as well, thanks to the Apple li's 
slow screen refresh rate. Datalink will lose charac- 
ters unless the other system can be persuaded to 
twiddle its thumbs after each carriage return by 
sending pad characters while your system catches 
up. 

All in all, Datalink is not a bad program, but it's 
not an overly impressive one either. Keep in mind, 
though, that its major fault is the menus. The unfor- 
tunate thing is that such menus are not even re- 
quired by the Pascal operating system. They are 
the product of misguided programmers, who are 
overly fond of a poor idea. 

Requirements: Apple II + , 48K RAM, language 
card, two disk drives 
Link Systems/Naru Enterprises, $99.95 ' 

INFO-NET 

People are always looking for simple, direct ways 
to communicate. Now, Apple III users can achieve 
this goal with Info-Net, a program that will trans- 
form your computer into a bulletin-board system. 
The program's most significant application is as an 
in-house mail facility. 

The program is initialized from the Apple III that 
is used as the nexus of the communications sys- 
tem. A system operator, or sysop, controls and de- 
termines levels of access for each user. 

You access the bulletin board with a password, 
which is assigned when you subscribe to the ser- 
vice. You may change your password the first time 
you log on. For multipurpose situations, a null or 
blank password can be used, but can be altered 
only at the sysop level. : . 

The mail system provides private letter files. 
When you sign on, you are notified whether you 
have received any mail. You can choose to scan or 
read through new or existing letters, and, if de- 
sired, delete them. Provided your access level al- 
lows, you may also file mail for future reference. 

A classified section can be set up as a bulletin 
board with multiple categories, and the program 
will indicate whether they are opened or closed to 
reply. . - ■■ \ 



Communications 



199 



The program is well implemented and serves its 
purpose admirably. One problem: Info-Net pro- 
vides no password protection at the sysop level, 
which means that anyone who has the boot disk 
and the computer it's run on can alter access lev- 
els. Also, the program assumes that the user has a 
certain amount of knowledge. The manual, for in- 
stance, makes no mention of communication 
speed or protocol. The RS-232 driver file included 
with the program is set with the default 300-baud 
transmission rate and all default protocol values. In 
most, if not all, cases, this is sufficient, but further 
explanation could have been provided for users 
who would like to set up a higher-speed system. 
The manufacturers promise this in forthcoming is- 
sues of the operations manual. 
Requirements: Apple 111, 256K RAM, Profile hard 
disk, Hayes Smartmodem .■■■■■■.■ 
Sun Data, $250 



INTERLYNC 

Interlync is one of the new generation of pro- 
grams that makes use of the extra memory avail- 
able In the IBM PC. The program is written partially 
in : C, with some assembly language routines 
thrown in. Even so, it uses 67K of RAM. in return 
for using up all that memory, the program offers ail 
the features you would expect in a standard smart 
terminal program, plus a few sophisticated fea- 
tures that you generally won't find elsewhere. 

As you would expect from any standard smart 
terminal program, Interlync will let you capture in- 
formation and save it to disk. It will also let you 
transfer files directly to and from disk, with or with- 
out error checking protocols. The program uses 
XMODEM protocol, which makes it compatible 
with the widest possible range of other software. 

Interlync will let you save communications pa- 
rameters and such for each system you deal with. 
Each parameter file lets you program up to 26 keys 
to send auto-dial commands to your modem, log- 
on sequences to the other computer, or any com- 
monly used set of commands. With THE SOURCE, 
for example, you might program a key to take you 
directly from the sign-on menu to your favorite bul- 
letin board. Twenty-six definable keys per system is 
more than you're likely to need. 

The most welcome, and most uncommon, fea- 
ture in this program is the full-screen editor. Once 
a line or page is entered, you can send it to the host 



computer, the printer, or disk. Or revise it if you 
like. 

Other features include the use of Function keys 
rather than an arbitrary maze of keystrokes for en- 
tering commands. Also, the program will handle 
communications at up to 9600 baud, if connected 
directly to another computer. 

A very nice touch finally is the online help built 
into the program— nearly 35 "pages" worth. This 
feature can be called on at any time by pressing the 
help key, without interrupting an online session. 

All in all, Interlync is an impressive program in- 
deed. Try it. You'll probably like it. 
Requirements: IBM PC, 128K RAM, one disk drive 
Zsoft (distributed by MicroMart), $199 

MICRO LINK II 

■This smart terminal program is available in pre- 
configured versions for a wide variety of comput- 
ers. "Pre-configured" means that you don't have to 
spend time installing the program for your system. 
It also means that you must order the program spe- 
cifically for the system you plan to run it on. Make 
sure you get the right version, and make doubly 
sure of that before you fake the disk out of its plas- 
tic envelope. 

The notice on the envelope says it is your respon- 
sibility to make sure that the program is suitable for 
your needs and that the disk is compatible with 
your system, it also says that once the envelope has 
been opened, -your money will not be refunded. 
This is not unreasonable, considering that the disk 
is not copy protected, but before you open that 
envelope, you want to be very sure that you didn't 
somehow wind up with a disk you can't use. ■■'"= 

The manual for Micro Link //makes the program 
appear much much more confusing than it is. If you 
follow Digital's instructions and read the manual 
before you open the envelope, you're likely to pack 
everything back in the box and send it back. (The 
fact that most people don't send it back is probably 
a measure of how many people actually read the; 
manual before opening the envelope.) 
' The confusion in the manual stems from the way 
it refers to the program's commands. It simply 
doesn't help to be told that to send a letter by elec- 
tronic mail the commands to use are, "22.39, 41.1, 
43(on),44.1,45.0D,5.": ' 

This problem disappears when you look at the 
program. Micro Link II offers you four sets of 
menus. These list the various commands as num- 



200 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



bered menu choices. Each command has a unique 
number so you can enter any command at any 
time, regardless of which menu Is on the screen: 
"22" happens to be the menu number for line 
width, so that "22.39" in the example translates to 
a command to change the line width to 39 charac- 
ters. Considering that the program has more than 
40 commands, it would have been much easier to 
refer to them by mnemonics, or even by full name, 
instead of by numbers.; Because you can display 
the menus at any time, this is merely an inconve- 
nience rather than a major problem. 

Using the program is easyenough. For interac- 
tive communications you: simply pick "conversa- 
tion mode" from the menu. You can then establish 
communications manually, or, if you have an auto- 
dial modem, simply type in the phone number from 
the keyboard. The program is also capable of stor- 
ing up to nine phrases. You can use this to save 
phone numbers for auto-dialing with an intelligent 
modem or to store log-on sequences. Other com- 
mands letyou turn the memory buffer on and off, 
turn your printer on and off, or filter out unwanted 
characters. The program will send or receive files, 
with or without the MODEM7 error checking proto- 
col. 

Micro Link II won't do anything very sophisti- 
cated, but it will meet most communications needs 
for most people. If you're looking for a standard 
smart terminal program — and one that you won't 
outgrow too quickly— M/cro Link II is a good place 

tO Start. . . ■■■:■■■■.■ ■ _■_;■;:■::.;;■■:_::...;;■,:".■ 

Requirements: MS-DOS, CP/M-86, CP/M 2.2, 32K 

RAM • .■-.. ;,,....; 

Digital Marketing Corp., $99 ;;.., 

mite ^r:;::;; v ;r:;'.; ;: ;;;:: : \;i : ;:,. 

Computer programs can be classified along a 
scale of suitability that runs from computer novice 
to sophisticated user. They can also be classified 
along a slightly different scale that runs from com- 
puter-user-as-consumer to computer-user-as-hob- 
biest. -Mite is a sophisticated smart terminal 
program that succeeds in covering a wide range on 
the first scale, but is oddly difficult to place on the 
second. ■ 

Mite comes in specific versions for more than , 
100 different machines. The 16-bit versions come 
pre-installed so that you need only make a backup 
copy and run the program. The 8-bit versions in- 
clude a simple INSTALL program that can be used 



by anyone who has a passing acquaintance with 
his or her system. If you ordered the right 8-bit 
version of the program, you simply follow the in- 
structions in the manual and pick your system from 
the list in the INSTALL program. 

It is also possible to customize -Mite for other 
machines, but only if you know what you're doing. 
The procedure involves writing assembly language 
routines, a task well beyond most casual computer 
users. Mycroft Labs will make the attempt to cus- 
tomize Mite for you. Contact them before buying 
the program. 

Mite is reasonably easy to iearn and ruse, yet it 
offers all the capabilities you would expect to find 
in a sophisticated smart terminal program, includ- 
ing auto-dial, auto-log-on, the ability to capture in- 
formation and save it to disk, and the ability to send 
or receive files with or without error checking pro- 
tocols. 

Other features include control over an unusually 
large number of parameters, the ability to store any 
number of parameter files, and the ability to filter 
out unwanted characters that might be interfering 
with communications. One particularly noteworthy 
feature is the range of choices in error checking 
protocols. These include, but are not limited to, the 
CLINK/Crosstalk protocol, the Hayes Terminal Pro- 
gram/Hayes Smartcom I and Smartcom II protocol, 
the XMODEM protocol, and Mite's own protocol. 
Mite can also be used with the Western Union's 
Telex II system (TWX). .-.■"■: 
'■Mite's design is remarkably simple and straight- 
forward. The program's main menu lists several 
commands including Go, Start Communications, 
and Hang Up Phone. It also lists a choice of eight 
sub-menus. These have names like "Text File 
Upload, "-Text File Download," and "Binary File 
Xfer." The odd thing here is the reliance on com- 
puter jargon in a program that is otherwise care- 
fully designed for ease of use. These three sub- 
menus could just as easily have been labeled 
"Send a Text File," "Receive a Text File,": and "File 
Transfer with Error Checking." 

If you know what these terms mean, it is a simple 
matter to pick the right sub-menu, make the appro- 
priate choices from that menu, and get on with 
communications. In fact, if you are already familiar 
with the terminology, you can probably. learn most 
of what you need to know about using Mite simply 
by looking through the menus. The complication, 
of course, is that if you don't know what these 



Communications 



201 



terms mean you have to turn to the manual to find 
out. 

The manual shows a tendency toward the tech- 
nical, yet manages to explain things in reasonably 
clear English. The result is that you may learn more 
technical details and jargon than you really need, 
but you will learn them, not be overwhelmed by 
them. And once you learn them, you will find that 
MITE is flexible enough to meet most communica- 
tions needs. 

Requirements: Available for over 100 specific ma- 
chines. 

Mycroft Labs, CP/M version $150; CP/M-86, MS- 
DOS, PC-DOS versions, $195 



MOVE-IT 

As the name implies, this is a lean, no-nonsense 
program with an emphasis on file transfer func- 
tions. As such, it will let you send and receive files 
with or without Move-It's own error-checking pro- 
tocol. It also functions quite nicely as a straight- 
forward, standard smart-terminal program. 

"Lean and no-nonsense" are not to be confused 
with "limited and difficult to understand." The pro- 
gram has relatively few commands, but they are 
well chosen. They are also well named, which 
makes them exceedingly easy to remember and 
use. The command to send a file is Send. The com- 
mand to get a file is GET. The command to make a 
phone call is Call. Perhaps the nicest is the com- 
mand for direct communications from the key- 
board. Most programs call this interactive mode, 
conversational mode, or least terminal mode. 
Move-It calls it talk mode, and the command to get 
there is Talk. 

Move-It uses a command-based structure; it 
gives you a prompt sign and waits for you to tell it 
something, it will also give you menus if you need 
them, in command mode, enter "?" followed by a 
return, and you'll get a list along with a short expla- 
nation of each command, in talk mode, you enter 
"ESC ?" for a similar list. In most cases you can 
enter the command by its first letter only. 

The manual is not as well designed as the pro- 
gram itself. It is reasonably readable, but it as- 
sumes that you already know what things like 
"duplex" and "parity" mean. This is less than help- 
ful if you're not already familiar with communica- 
tions. There are other oversights you might quibble 
with, but for the most part Move-It represents a 



major victory for common sense design in a highly 

technical, jargon-laden field. 

Requirements: CP/M, CP/M-86, or MS-DOS, 32K 

RAM 

Woo If Software Systems, CP/M version $125; CP/ 

M-86 or MS-DOS version $150 : 

MTERM 

This minimal smart terminal program has a num- 
ber of surprisingly sophisticated features. It comes 
in versions for several systems including the IBM 
PC, TRS-80, and the Apple II and II + . Each of the 
versions has identical protocols, and similar com- 
munications features. 

MTERM will let you capture information in mem- 
ory, then send it to disk or to a printer if you have 
one. You can also print information as it comes in. 
Sending files is a two-step procedure. First you 
load the file into memory, then you send it. You can 
also transfer files directly to and rom disk through 
a separate module called Xfer. Xfer will- work with 
both text files and program files and is not iimitecj 
to files that will fit into the memory available in your 
system. The Xfer module uses an error-checking 
protocol that is apparently specific to MTERM, 
though the manual is not clear on this point. 

Other features of MTERM include auto-dial and 
semiautomatic log-on. The auto-dial feature can 
store up to ten phone numbers for retrieval at the 
touch of a key. Auto-log-on is accomplished 
through the program's "MacroKeys." MTERM will 
let you define ten keys as "macros." Each of these 
will let you send up to 64 characters with a single 
keystroke. You can also set up one of the macros 
for automatic transmission in response to a con- 
trol-E. This signal is used by many bulletin boards, 
which makes this a handy feature if you use these 
services frequently. The program also gives you 
control over several communications settings, in- 
cluding baud rate and duplex setting. You can 
store a separate set of parameters for each system 
you use. 

One very nice feature in MTERM is unattended 
auto-dial, a capability seldom found in communi- 
cation programs in this price range. Give MTERM 
its orders, and it will quietly wait until the specified 
hour, at which time it will wake up, reach into its 
well of telephone numbers, dial, and connect your 
system to another computer. This feature is not as 
useful as it might be. MTERM will log on only in 
response to a control-E, and will then be limited 



202 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



only to sending a message from its memory buffer 
and hanging up the phone. Still, this capability can 
be useful in a limited range of situations. 
Requirements: IBM PC, Zenith, TRS-80, Apple II or 
ir+, disk drive 
Microsystems Software, $79.95 

OMNITERM 

Omniterm is one of those rare programs that of- 
fers many sophisticated features, yet is simple 
enough for any novice to use. It does most of the 
work to get the user online, and the latest version 
will even dial the phone and log-on automatically. 

A command menu, summoned by pressing the 
"(©"key twice, displays the user's options. These 
options are accessed by a single keystroke. For 
example, pressing "P" toggles the printer on or off. 
It would be hard to imagine a simpler way to set up 
Omniterm to the required format. 

Omniterm has virtually every option one would 
want on a smart-terminal program. Lindbergh Sys- 
tems claims that Omniterm will let your TRS-80 
communicate with any computer, and this is prob- 
ably true. It allows for changing the screen format 
to match that of the system the user wishes to con- 
tact. A line-feed suppression option compensates 
for other systems that send only a carriage return 
at the end of a line. Baud rate, number of data and 
stop bits, and parity are all adjustable. (Omniterm 
defaults to 300 baud, 7 data bits, 1 stop bit, and 
even parity when booted up.) 

When it comes time to print out data from the 
screen, Omniterm offers some handy features. A 
2,000-character buffer stores text in case your 
printer can't keep up. A carriage-return suppres- 
sion feature aids in formatting printouts. 

The manual is thorough, and includes a code- 
conversion table and a glossary. 

Omniterm has been around for several years, and 
it is still one of the premiere terminal packages for 
the TRS-80. This program shows how successful 
well-thought-out, easy-to-use software can be. 
Requirements; TRS-80 Model IN or 4, disk drive 
Lindbergh Systems, $95 ... 

P-COM 

E-GOM is both a trademark and a service of the 
U.S. Postal Service. It is also an acronym for Elec- 
tronic Computer Originated Mail. The concept be- 
hind the service is simple, instead of dropping your 
mail off at a post office or mailbox and having it 



sent to a central distribution point, you use your 
computer to send the mail directly to the distribu- 
tion center. The post office then trucks the mail to 
local post offices and delivers it. 

E-COM has three basically different capabilities: 
Single Address messages (SAM), Common Text 
messages (COT), and Text Inserted messages 
(TIM). SAM service lets you send many letters to a 
single addressee. COT and TIM are two variations 
on form letters. COT lets you send identical letters 
to any number of different people. TIM lets you 
send slightly different letters to any number of dif- 
ferent people. 

To use E-COM you need two things. The first is 
permission from the Post Office. The second is 
some way of connecting your computer to the sys- 
tem. P-Com gives you that capability for the IBM 
PC. 

In addition to letting your IBM PC talk to the E- 
COM system, P-Com also helps to create mailing 
lists and text to send to E-COM. The P-Com text 
handler is primitive, but you can also create letters 
in WordStar (and only WordStar) and read them in: 
to a P-Com text file. 

P-Com also functions as a database program for 
your mailing lists. Once you've created a set of 
master lists, you can have the program select spe- 
cific groups of names from each list and merge 
them for specific mailings' — all architects, perhaps, 
or ail addresses in Nevada. Mailing lists created 
and maintained with P-Com can also be used to 
create standard mailing labels when needed. 

There is at least one problem inherent in the E- 
COM system that P-Com makes a serious attempt 
to solve. When you send a form letter with TIM, you 
never get to see the finished product. The actual 
merging of text into the form letter is done by the 
Post Office on Its own printers. This doesn't give 
you the chance to look over the letters and fix any 
errors that might have crept in. P-Com lessens the 
danger of disaster somewhat by giving you a 
"pseudo E-COM environment." This lets you run 
the text insertion step on your own, and see the 
final letter so you can verify the contents. 

The program is designed to work with an abso- 
lute minimum of knowledge on your part. Every 
step Is guided by menus. A profile information 
menu asks you to enter information about your ID 
number and transmission speed, after which you 
never have to worry about such things again. And 
since the program is designed specifically for use 



Communications 



203 



with E-COM, it automatically provides the proper 
communications protocols and parameters. 

The manual is extremely short, but tells you 
everything you need to know to use the program. 
However, one small comment raises a very large 
question about suppliers of E-COM software in 
general. The manual warns that the software in- 
cludes a routine which will automatically send a 
SAM letter to • Fogle Computing Corporation 
roughly once in every 500 letters you mail. This is 
not a copy of one of your letters, but simply a veri- 
fication that the return address of the person using 
the program matches the address of the person 
licensed to use the program. The potential behind 
this, however, is a hidden ability to send a copy of 
all your mail to one central point without your 
knowledge. ' 

Requirements: IBM PC, 1 28K RAM, one disk drive 
Fogle Computing Corp., $325 ■■- = 

P.I.T.S. 

P.I.T.S. is short for Pascal Interactive Terminal 
Software. Software Sorcery touts it as a highly so- 
phisticated program, but in fact it is no more than a 
minimal smart terminal program. Incoming infor- 
mation can be captured in a 24K memory buffer 
and later saved to disk or sent to the printer, but 
file size is limited to what will fit into memory. If you 
have a printer with an honest printing speed of 60 
cps or greater, information can be printed as it is 
received. Because the Apple II screen is refreshed 
slowly, communications with P.I.T.S, are limited to 
300 baud. 

The most important limitation of this program, 
though, is that its usefulness depends largely on 
how well you understand the Apple Pascal system. 
Functions that in other programs are governed in- 
teractively, here require modification of the pro- 
gram itself. For example,, the program as shipped 
is set to use one start bit, eight data bits, one stop 
bit, no parity, and full duplex. The documentation 
claims correctly that this will let you talk to most 
systems. If you want to use a system that won't 
accept these settings, though, you have to use the 
Pascal Editor to modify the appropriate item in the 
system configuration file. Similarly, if you want to 
filter out an incoming character, you can do it by 
redefining the Vaiidcharset (valid character set) in 
the P.i.T.S. text file, but any such modification re- 
quires that the program be recompiled using the 
Pascal Compiler. 



In its favor, P.I.T.S; supports a variety of serial 
interfaces and buiit-in modems for the Apple II. 
Requirements: Apple II or II + , 64K RAM; language 
card, one disk drive 
Software Sorcery, $54.95 

PC/INTERCOMM 

This terminal emulation program for the IBM PC 
is easy to learn, easy to use, and offers enough 
features to handle most interactive communication 
needs. It will also turn your PC or PC work-alike 
into the equivalent of a DEC VT100 terminal. ' 

For the most part, PC/lnterComm qualifies as a 
standard smart terminal program. It will let you 
capture information and save it to disk, and it will 
let you send or receive files with or without error 
checking protocols. The choice in protocols is be- 
tween MODEM7 and a second protocol for use with 
another system running PC/lnterComm. You can 
control a fair number of parameter settings, includ- 
ing baud rate and duplex setting, and you can save 
as many parameter files as you need. With each 
parameter file, you can program up to 30 function 
keys with up to 23 characters of text each. You can 
use these for automatic dial commands and as a 
kind of semiautomatic log-on, though the manual 
"strongly recommends" that you do not use these 
for sending passwords. 

■ The most distinctive feature of this program is its 
ability to emulate a DEC VT1 00 terminal. In addition 
to giving you standard I ine-at-a-ti me communica- 
tions abilities, this opens up the possibility for full- 
screen text editing or even graphics-— if you are 
dealing with a system that knows how to talk to a 
DEC VT100 or VT52 and is programmed to make 
use of these capabilities. Even without the terminal 
emulation feature, PC/lnterComm is worth a close 
look if you are in the market for a smart terminal 
program. 

Requirements: IBM PC with PC DOS, 64K RAM 
Mark of the Unicorn, $99 

PC-TALK III 

In the beginning, there were two kinds of soft- 
ware. One kind was fully commercial, it was copy- 
righted, often copy protected, and sold for profit. 
The other kind was a nobbiest product, freely avail- 
able for the asking. These two kinds of software 
overlapped in all sorts of ways, including quality, 
features, amount of documentation, and the level 
of expertise required in order to use them. But 



204 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



there was always a clear distinction between soft- 
ware that was sold, and software that was given 
away. 

Then came Andrew Fluegelman. Fluegelman had 
a communications program called PC-Talk. He also 
had a strange idea. In a world where most commer- 
cial software houses were charging whatever the 
traffic would bear, Fluegelman decided to charge 
the almost token price of $25. That wasn't the 
strange idea. The strange idea was this: While most 
software houses were spending more and more of 
their time and energy worrying about software pi- 
rates stealing their programs, Fluegelman decided 
to give his program away for the asking. Not only 
that, he encouraged others to give it away as well. 
All he asked in return was the voluntary payment of 
$25 from anyone who used the program and de- 
cided it was worth the money. 

Clearly, Fluegelman is not destined to survive in 
the world of big business. Yet survive he has. The 
original PC-Talk, I am told, had some bugs in it, but 
it was soon replaced by a second version. This sec- 
ond version went on to become a standard of sorts 
in the IBM PC community. More recently, Fluegel- 
man has come out with a new version, PC-Talk III. 
The voluntary price for this version is $35. This is 
slightly more than a token payment perhaps, but 
still a bargain when compared to the programs that 
PC- Talk competes with on a feature-by-feature 
basis. 

PC-Talk III qualifies as a standard smart terminal 
program. It will let you send or receive disk files 
with or without the XMODEM error checking pro- 
tocol. Other features include auto-dial and auto- 
log-on. The program's dialing directory can hold 
up to 60 phone numbers, along with appropriate 
parameter settings for each number. Log-on se- 
quences are stored elsewhere. One important new 
feature in PC-Talk III is the ability to translate or 
filter out up to three incoming characters. A nice 
touch a|so is the ability to save the current screen- 
ful of information to disk. This can be more than 
handy for those occasions when you suddenly re- 
alize you ought to be saving something, but hadn't 
previously thought to tell the program that. 

The manual for this program comes in the form 
70 pages of documentation, all on disk. It's up to 
you to print it. You will also find two versions of the 
program on the disk (or two disks if you are using 
single sided format). The 128K program is the one 
described here. The 64K version is a slightly 



stripped-down version for those who don't have 
128K to play with. 

You can most likely get PC-Talk III by asking 
around for it. If you can't find anyone who has a 
copy, you can either send $35 to Headlands Press, 
or you can send a formatted double-sided disk or 
two formatted single-sided disks. Be sure to in- 
clude a pre-addressed, pre-paid, return mailer. The 
address is: The Headlands Press, Inc., P.O. Box 
862, Tiburon.CA 94920. 

Requirements: IBM PC; 64K RAM or 1 28K RAM 
Headlands Press, $35 if you like it, nothing if you 
don't 



PEACHTREE TELECOMMUNICATIONS 

Some programs refuse to fall neatly into simple, 
categories. Telecommunications from Peachtree 
software is a prime example. In some ways this is a 
standard smart terminal program. If you insist on 
looking at it as one, however, you'll have missed 
the point Imitating a terminal is not what this pro- 
gram is about. 

It's probably best to think of Telecommunica- 
tions as a file transfer, utility that includes some 
limited terminal capabilities as a bonus. As a file 
transfer utility, it wiil work only with another system 
that is also running Telecommunications. Within 
these limits, the program gives you some sophisti- 
cated and extremely useful features. You can, for 
example, set the system to wait for a call so that a 
second system can call in and transfer files without 
anyone at the first location. A nice touch here is the 
printer log, which will print a list of all files sent and 
received in your absence. 

The manual also deserves special mention. Its 
target audience is the nontechnical office worker 
who is concerned with finding out how to get job 
done while learning as few technical details as pos- 
sible. In that context, the manual succeeds reason- 
ably well, but with one glaring omission. 

The program comes with a program disk and a 
configuration disk, if you follow the instructions in 
the manual, you will make a back-up of the pro- 
gram disk, then configure it. What the manual 
doesn't tell you is that you will also configure your 
configuration disk in the process, and make it im- 
possible to reconfigure the program if you've cho- 
sen the wrong system. The only way to recover 
from this error is to start over with a previously 
made back-up copy of the unconfigured version of 



Communications 



205 



the configuration program. But the manual never 
warns you to make one. The disks don't even come 
with write-protect tabs to help save you from this 
disaster. 

If you can get beyond this particular problem, 
and if you need a file transfer utility, Peachtree 
Telecommunications is probably worth looking at, 
but approach it with care. For a program that was 
clearly designed for the non-technicai user, it 
shows some strange oversights. 
Requirements: MS-DOS with 64K RAM; CP/M with 
48K RAM 
Peachtree Software, $150 



PLATO ACCESS DISK 

This may be the most specialized communica- 
tions program conceivable. Not only is it designed 
to work only with a particular computer system the 
IBM PC, it is also designed to work only with a 
single online service, Control Data Corporation's 
PLATO. 

PLATO, in case you're not familiar with it, is an 
online system, much like CompuServe or THE 
SOURCE. Unlike these better known systems, 
PLATO specializes in educational software, with 
heavy reliance on graphics capabilities. It also has 
graphics-based games and a graphics-creation 
section. In order to use these facilities, PLATO 
must be able to control your terminal on a full 
screen basis instead of the one-line-at-a-tlme basis 
that CompuServe and THE SOURCE normally use. 
Until recently, the only terminals that PLATO would 
work with were those supplied by the system. The 
PLATO Access Disk is a terminal emulator program 
that will make your IBM PC act like a PLATO termi- 
nal, both giving the system full screen control and 
letting you send the commands that the system ex- 
pects to see from its own terminals. - 

Because it is tailored for a particular computer 
system, there is hardly anything to install, unless 
you count making a backup copy of the disk and 
following a few simple instructions for adjusting 
the monitor. Because it is similarly tailored for a 
specific online system, it gives you control over 
only one parameter — the baud rate. There are no 
noteworthy communications features. 

As of this writing, PLATO is planning to offer sim- 
ilar programs for other machines. Check with them 
for current availability, and for further information 
on PLATO itself. 



Requirements: IBM PC with 64K RAM; one disk 
drive; Color/Graphics Monitor Adapter; RS-232 in- 
terface . - 
Control Data Publishing, $50 

SCI-MATE UNIVERSAL ONLINE 
SEARCHER 

Probably the most intriguing oniine utilities are 
those that specialize in information-retrieval ser- 
vices. These systems aren't as well known as more 
general utilities like THE SOURCE or CompuServe, 
but more and more people are learning about them 
and beginning to use them. Five of the largest such 
systems are BRS, DIALOG, SDC ORBIT, NLM from 
the National Library of Medicine, and ISI (Institute 
for Scientific Information). 

Between them, these five systems have hundreds 
of individual databases. To get the information, you 
have only to type in a request at your keyboard. 
Just because the information is almost literally at 
your fingertips, however, doesn't mean that you 
can necessarily get your hands on it These sys- 
tems are completely command based, with little or 
nothing in the way of help screens or menus. And 
to make matters worse, each system has a different 
set of commands. 

Enter the Sci-Mate Universal Online Searcher. 

What the Sci-Mate Searcher does, in effect, is 
remember the command for you. The program lets 
you tell it which system you're on, then provides a 
menu of commands to choose from— essentially 
the same commands for each database. You pick 
from the menu, and the program generates the 
proper command for the system, all of which effec- 
tively turns an online command-based system into 
a menu-based one. 

The menu-search feature would not be very use- 
ful without communication capabilities to go along 
with it, of course. The program has these too. It is 
probably best classified as a specialized smart ter- 
minal program, complete with the ability to save 
incoming information to disk for iater use. A com- 
panion program, the Personal Data Manager (see 
review), is designed to help you index and maintain 
the information you save. 

Communications features include such common 
conveniences as auto-dial and auto-log-on. You 
can also put the program in "passive-terminal 
mode." This bypasses all the searching features 
and gives you what amounts to a simple smart ter- 
minal program. It is somewhat limited, but it will 



206 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



still let you communicate with most online systems, 
including THE SOURCE and CompuServe. 

The advantages of the menu-search capability of 
the Sci~Mate Searcher are obvious. There is at least 
one disadvantage as well. For those who are profi- 
cient in using a system, using menus is never as 
fast or as efficient as entering commands directly. 
Of course, if you are proficient in using the online 
system, you wouldn't need the menus in the first 
place, and as a beginner, you would tend to ignore 
the finer points anyway. But if you rely on the 
menus, you will never become proficient. 

If you don't use these systems very much any- 
way, this might not be much of a disadvantage, but 
keep it in mind as a possible problem. Online 
searching is still costly, and learning the com- 
mands of a system you use often is. an effort that 
will be quickly repaid. Also keep in mind that when 
it comes to the actual search, the program won't 
do any of the real work for you. Learning how to 
conduct a search is an art in itself. 

Yet therSc/-Mate Universal Online Searcher is 
still the most painless way for a beginner or occa- 
sional user to make use of the five systems the 
program : is designed for. If you've been staying 
away from these systems because they looked too 
complicated, you've just iost your excuse. ; 
Requirements: IBM PC or XT, PC DOS 1.1 or 2.0, 
128K RAM, two disk drives; CP/M, 64K RAM, two 
disk drives; available in 8-inch disk or machine- 
specific versions for Vector 3 or 4, Kaypro 4 or 10, 
TRS-80 Models I and II (with Pickles and Trout CP/ 
M only), and Apple II with Z80 card and 80-column 
card; Apple ll-version requires a serial card and RS- 
232 modem . 

institute for Scientific Information, $440; with Per- 
sonal Data Manager $880 



SMARTCOMII 

This somewhat-more-than-standard smart termi- 
nal program is one of the new breed of programs 
that answers the question, "But what are you going 
to do with allthat extra memory available on the 
16-bit machines?" The answer is, you use it. The 
program comes in an 8-bit, "stripped down" ver- 
sion for the Xerox 820 and Kaypro li, but the 1 6-bit 
version needs a minimum of 96K RAM and can 
make use of much more. Smartcom //comes in 
modules. It will load as many of these into memory 
as will fit. The more that fit, the less often the pro- 



gram will have to go to the disk, and the faster it 
will run. It can make use of up to 192Kof RAM. : 

This is a lot of memory for a communications 
program. Some of the most sophisticated. smart 
terminal programs available fit into as little as 56K 
and can handle at least as many communications 
tasks. Smartcom II uses the extra memory for bells 
and whistles— the kind that make life more conve- 
nient, particularly for the new user. These show up 
primarily in the menu displays and the help feature. 

The menus are well designed— informative, easy 
to read, and easy to use. The main menu is particu- 
larly helpful, and includes an option to display the 
disk directory. The help feature is similarly impres- 
sive, if you need a parameter setting explained, for 
example, you can ask for help and will usually be 
given a complete, reasonably nontechnical expla- 
nation of the parameter, its function, and its pos- 
sible settings. You can also get online explanations 
of prompts. ■ 

Smartcom II has all the features you would ex- 
pect in a standard smart terminal program, includ- 
ing auto-dialing, auto-log-on, and the ability send 
and receive files with or without error checking. 
Unfortunately, the only error checking protocol in- 
cluded is Hayes's. own. , 

Smartcom //offers unattended, remote access 
from another system also -running Smartcom II. 
This lets you call the system and transfer files, con- 
trolling the entire operation from the remote loca- 
tion. One noteworthy feature that you won't find on 
many programs is the ability to save incoming in- 
formation to disk as it is being displayed on the 
screen. You can toggle this disk capture on and 
off. Other features include storage of up to 25 
"Communication Sets," extended parameter files 
that can also store a phone number, log-on se- 
quence, and up to 26 "macro commands" for each 
file. These macro commands give you the equiva- 
lent of having 26 programmable Function keys in 
each parameter file. 

The manual is up to Hayes's most recent stan- 
dards, it provides an excellent introduction to the 
program. The help feature in the program itself is 
so weli designed that the manual. might almost be 
superfluous, except that it includes a thorough 
overview of communications. And not just the tech- 
nical side. You Will find a list of phone numbers for 
nearly 400 bulletin boards and an introduction to 
several online systems, including CompuServe, 
Dow Jones/News Retrieval, Knowledge Index, and 



Communications 



207 



THE SOURCE. The program also includes pre-de- 
fined Communication Sets for each of these. 

One last note: Smartcom II is written specifically 
for the Hayes Smartmodems and comes in specific 
versions for specific machines. Even better, each 
version comes with a manual that is also written for 
the specific system the program' runs on. This 
eliminates the task of "systems integration" that is 
usually a major complication for the communica- 
tions newcomer. On this basis alone, if you have a 
machine that the program will run on, and if you 
are considering any of the Hayes Smartmodems, 
you might very well like to complete your system by 
adding Smartcom II. ; 

Requirements: Smartmodem 300, 1200, or 1200B; 
16-bit versions for IBM PC (DOS 1.00, 1.10 or 2.00) 
and WANG Professional need minimum 96K RAM; 
DEC Rainbow version (runs under CP/M 86-80) 
needs 128K RAM; CP/M-80 version for the Xerox 
820 or KayPro II needs 64K RAM and minimum disk 
storage of 250K. 
Hayes Microcomputer Products, $149 

SMARTERM/PC 

This program comes in so many variations that 
it's hard to keep track of them. What they all have 
in common is that they can't run an iBM PC into a 
smart terminal. More precisely, each one can make 
your PC emulate one or more specific smart termi- 
nals. 

The basic description of each version is hidden 
in the program name, if you know how to decode it 
The "TE" in TE400-FT translates to "Terminal Em- 
ulator." The "400" is Data General Corporation's 
D400 terminal, and. the closely related D100 and 
D200. The "FT" indicates that the program in- 
cludes file-transfer capabilities. Similarly, TE100-FT 
emulates the DEC VT100, along with the VT101, 
VT102, and VT52. TE125-FT is not available as of 
this writing, but should be by the time this catalog 
is published. This is essentially an upgrade of 
TE100-FT, and adds the DEC VT-125 to the list. Cur- 
rent plans call for yet another version, TE950-FT, to 
emulate the TeleVideo 950. : 

The precise features in each of these program 
variations are, of course, dependent on the fea- 
tures in the terminals they emulate. Even so, the 
various versions have many features in common. 
Among other things, TE400-FT, TE100-FT, and 
TE125-FT each let you define four different setup 
configurations for communication, and each lets 



you program ten "softkeys" to store text for auto- 
dial, auto-iog-on, or other frequently used com- 
mands. More important, each gives you the ability 
to send and receive files, with or without Persoft's 
proprietary error-checking protocols. (The TE100- 
FT is also available without the file-transfer capabil- 
ity.) 

The manuals that come with these programs are 
not their strong point. They assume that you are 
already familiar with the IBM PC, the terminal being 
emulated, and commmunicatlons in general. The 
instructions for setup, for example, tell you that the 
"Com line" choice "Selects comm line, 1= COM 1, 
2 = COM2." This is not going to help much unless 
you already know that the IBM PC lets you desig- 
nate a communications device as either COMT or 
COM2. Similar is the explanation for the "Bits/ 
Char-Parity" choice, which says, "First character 
may be 7 or 8 [for 7 or 8 bit characters]; second 
character may be E for even parity, for odd parity, 
N for none, M for Mark (set parity to 1), or S for 
space (set parity to 0)." 

Oh. Another point against SMARTERM/PC is that 
it is copy protected. Mitigating this flaw, a backup 
disk is sent free upon receipt of the signed license 
agreement. On the plus side, Persoft will exchange 
a defective disk for $5, or essentially the cost of the 
disk. Even better, it will replace a missing disk for 
$25, one replacement per license. The company 
also offers a full refund within 30 days of purchase, 
which gives you a chance to try out the program at 
their risk. 

Another point in Persoft's favor is its warranty 
policy: ". ; . if you discover a program bug, let us 
know and we will fix it at no charge to you; M This is 
a refreshing change from the growing number of 
companies that refuse to warrant that their pro- 
grams are good for any purpose at all. 
Requirements: IBM PC; TE100-FT and TE400-FT 
for PC DOS 2.0 or 1.1, 96K RAM, two single-sided 
disk drives; for DOS 2.0, 128K RAM, two disk 
drives, at least one of which must be double-sided; 
TE125-FT, 128K RAM, PC DOS 2.0, two disk drives, 
color/graphics adapter 

Persoft, Inc., TE100-FT, emulator only, $100; 
TE100-FT with emulator and file-transfer capabili- 
ties $150; TE400-FT $125; TE1 25-FT $295; TE100-FT 
can be upgraded to TE125-FT for $175 

SOFTCOM 

The subtitle for this program is "Data Communi- 



208 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



cations Utility for. CP/M." This not only describes 
what Softcom does, it gives some indication of the 
modest goals that the program sets for itself. After 
all, you wouldn't expect as much from a "utility" as 
you would; from something that was billed as a 
"Data Communications Software System," or as an 
"advanced state-of-the-art communications pro- 
gram," And ypu would be right. 

Softcom qualifies as a standard smart terminal 
program, but just barely. You can capture informa- 
tion and save itto disk, and you can send disk files 
or receive files directly to disk, with or without Soft- 
corn's error checking protocols. The protocol file 
transfer can only be used with another system also 
running Softcom. 

The program gives you a few simple amenities, 
including the ability to toggle the printer on and off 
and toggle the memory buffer on and off. It will let 
you escape to your operating system to perform 
system commands, then quickly get back into the 
program, without disturbing a communications 
link. A parameter menu lets you set the program for 
full or half-duplex and gives you control over a few 
other parameters that relate to the file transfer 
function; That's about it; 

Jn exchange for its limitations, Softcom offers 
ease of use for the communications; novice. Pre- 
cisely because the program is so limited, it is ex- 
tremely easy to understand. The main menu only 
has about a half-dozen commands on it. This 
makes the Softcom a good entry level program. It 
won't do anything very sophisticated, and it won't 
let you talkto systems that have unusual parameter 
settingSi but it will introduce you to communica- 
tions, and it will handle most common communi- 
cations needs. . 
Requirements: CP/M; 32K RAM 
The Software Store, $1 50 

SOFTERM 2 

If packaging added value to programs, then Sof- 
term 2 would sell for twice its retail price. Actually, 
considering the features it supports, it could sell 
for that much anyway. 

Softerm 2 is a sophisticated smart terminal pro- 
gram for the Apple il. Features include the ability to 
capture information and send it to disk, and the 
ability to transfer files directly to and from disk, 
with or without the Xmodem error-checking proto- 
col. File transfer is a particular strength for this 
program. Thanks to its advanced file manager, Sof- 



term 2 will let you send and receive files stored in 
Apple DOS, CP/M, or Pascal formats. 

If your system is equipped with a clock or calen- 
dar card, you can use Softerm 2 for unattended 
operation as well. The system will wake up at a 
scheduled time, make a call, log on to another 
computer, carry out your orders to receive or send 
some information, then log off and go back to 
sleep.. ■:,- : 

Part of the package is an additional piece of 
hardware called the Keyboard Expander. This con- 
nects to the standard Apple keyboard and adds 
three modifier keys. Like a control key, these func- 
tion as additional "shifts" that triple the number of 
possible keyboard characters and add terminal 
codes not usually found on the Apple. - 

The program's most significant feature is its abil- 
ity to make your Apple emulate roughly 20 different 
terminals, including the ADDS Regent 20, the IBM 
3101-2Xi and theTelevtdeo 925. It will even emulate 
a garden variety "glass teletypewriter," like most 
other communications programs. :.-■■■■ 
• Also important on any program for the Apple is 
the range of modems, serial cards, and printers 
that the programcan work with., Softerm 2's menu 
driven installation routine gives you more than 15 
modems and serial cards to choose from, including 
the Novation Apple-CAT II and Hayes Micromodem 
II. The choices in printers .include about 25 print- 
ers, plus a "universal" interface that is supposed to 
give minimal printer capabilities with just about 
any printer. 

The Softerm 2 manual is a hacker's delight. It 
runs over 300 pages, not including the various ap- 
pendices and glossary, or the quick reference 
cards, if you're a beginner, though, you'll find that 
the first few chapters will tell you what you need to 

knOW. ■■.".:;■; :..■;. ■ } i0 

Requirements: Apple li, li + , or lie, one disk drive 
Softronics,$195' :. = ... .■.:'.'.■■ .- .- : .. 

T.H.E. SMART TERMINAL 

There aren't many smart terminal programs 
available for Atari computers, so it is not surprising 
that the writers of this .one decided to call it T.H.E. 
Smart Terminal. Whatever the initials mean, this is 
an easy-to-learn, easy-to-use program that will turn 
your Atari into a minimal smart terminal. .:■ 
. T.H.E Smart Terminal is menu driven. When you 
call it up, it gives you a list: of options to choose 
from. Turning your Atari, into a dumb terminal at 



Communications 



209 



that point is as simple as reading the menu and 
entering a "T" at the keyboard for "Terminal 
Mode." Other options are just as straightforward, 
once you've built a conceptual map of how the pro- 
gram works. _■■■' 

The key to' understanding this program is to real- 
ize that you have to do most things in stages. To 
send a file, you load it into the memory buffer'then 
send it to your modem. To receive a file, you cap- 
ture it in the : buffer then send it to disk. Even print- 
ing requires two steps: First you capture the 
information, then you print it. Most of the com- 
mands on the main menu are concerned with shuf- 
fling the information around. 
-■A group of sub-menus gives you control over a 
few basic parameters including baud rate and du- 
plex setting. You can also use MODEM7 protocol 
for transferring files. You cannot send or receive 
files that are longer than your system can hold in 
memory at one time. With text files you can solve 
this problem by breaking a long file into several 
shorter ones. 

TtH.E. Smart Terminal is Written for the 400, 800, 
and the short-lived 1200XL. According to Atari, if it 
works on the 1200XL it should work on the entire 
series of XL computers. >'." ' ; 

Requirements: Atari 400, 800, or XL series com- 
puter with 850 interface; 16K RAM for cassette ver- 
sion, 24K RAM for disk version ■'■■■■■■ 
Binary Corporation, $49.95 ' : 

TALK 

With the apparent demise of the Osborne com- 
puter line, software for the Osborne 1 will probably 
become less available with time. But old computers 
can last a long time, and computer users often de- 
velop an attachment to their machines. It is this 
sort of attachment that has kept even ancient Al- 
tairs in use. "Talk is for Osborne users who have no 
plans to abandon their machines, it is a minimal 
smart terminal program written specifically for the 
Osborne 1- 

Talk will let you communicate at either 300 or 
1200 baud through the built-in RS-232 printer port 
on the Osborne. The program has no error check- 
ing protocols, which means that you are limited to 
sending and receiving text only. File transfer is a 
two-step procedure. First you load the incoming or 
outgoing information into the memory buffer, then 
you send it to its destination. The maximum size 
file that will fit in the memory is 33K. Talk will not 



let you send information to a printer while online. 
You have to save information to disk, 1 then print it 
out after you hang up the phone, either using a 
word processor or the Type command in CP/M. 

The 20-page manual that comes with this pro- 
gram is simple enough to understand, but as its 
size suggests, it contains relatively little informa- 
tion—certainly less than you'll want to know if you 
are new to communications. 

All in all, Talk is too limited a program to deserve 
serious consideration. It simply is not one of the 
better terminal packages for this machine. 
Requirements: Osborne 1 
Universal Synergetics, $75 

TELELINK I, TELELINK II 

Atari's Telelink II offers just a smidge more than 
rock-bottom, dumb terminal capabilities for your 
Atari. Telelink I, /manages to offer even less in the 
way of features while still managing^ to be barely 
more than a strictly dumb terminal program. 

Both Telelink I and // come in the form of a car- 
tridge. With either, you plug the cartridge into your 
system, hit the reset button, and the program re- 
sponds with its sign-on message. At that point, 
your Atari has been turned into a dumbterminal, 
which is to say that your keyboard and screen have 
been effectively disconnected from the rest of your 
computer system. Anything you type will go to your 
modem by way of your 850 Interface. Anything that 
comes in through your modem will show up on 
yourscreen, ■■■'•' ■ 

You can also print information by capturing it in 
memory, then sending it to the printer. This is Tele- 
link I's only added feature. Telelink //improves on 
it by letting you print a conversation as you go, 
toggling the printer on or off at any time. A less 
important feature in Telelink //is the ability to store 
two. phone numbers (if you have an auto-dial 
modem) and two log-on sequences for automatic 
log-on. This maximum of two is either small 
enough to be laughable or just large enough to 
make you wish for more, depending on your view- 
point. ' ■ ■' : : .: ; '- ■ ■■'■■■■ ■■ 

Be forewarned. If you get either version of 7e/e- 
link (or any other dumb terminal program for that 
matter) you will quickly outgrow it. These programs 
are strictly for beginners. 

Requirements: Atari 400, 800, or XL Series com- 
puter; 8K RAM. 
Atari, Telelink I $29.95; Telelink II' comes only as 



210 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



part of Atari's Communicator li Kit, which cost 
$149.95 and includes a modem . ; . = 



TELETEXT 

TeleText is a communications software package 
that allows data transmission between your Apple 
II and other personal computers, bulletin board 
systems, or commercial time sharing systems such 
as The Source or CompuServe. 

More than just a basic communications program, 
TeleText consists of an editing, filing, printing, and 
answering system, macro editor, phone number 
editor, and four conversion programs to allow 
transmission of Applesoft, Integer BASIC and bi- 
nary program files as well as Pascal text files. 
. With the editor and filing system, text may. be 
easily prepared in advance to save on long-dis- 
tance telephone charges and connect time. Re- 
ceived information can be downloaded quickly into 
the buffer holding more. than. 17K bytes and auto- 
matically saved to disk for later review and printing. 
'•..Tele Text will operate through any modem con- 
nected to an Apple Communications Card, but if 
either a Hayes Micromodem II or Novation Apple- 
Cat li is being used, your Apple can automatically 
answer the telephone, receive the data, and save it 
to disk. It operates only at 110 or 300 baud, how- 
ever, not at 1200 baud. 

TeleText supports the Videx 80-coiumn board, 
upper- and lower-case display, and the Shift-key 
modification on the Apple II. Other features. include 
elimination of word splitting on incoming text (40- 
coiumn screen only) and optional page formatting 
of printed copy. Ail 128 ASCII character codes are 
available through the keyboard while editing or on- 
line. . 

A macro editor allows definition of up to nine 
macros containing a maximum of 39 characters. As 
an, example, your sign-on password or an' entire 
log-on sequence can be assigned to a macro and 
then entered anytime with only two keystrokes. 

TeleText is supplied on a single copy-protected 
disk; two backups may be made using its own copy 
program. If you are using a hard disk system that 
allows extended volumes of more than 35 tracks, 
TeleText may be copied to that disk. Included also 
is a 67-page instruction manual with tutorial. 
Requirements: Apple II with Applesoft BASIC, II + 
or lie, 48K RAM, disk drive 
MicroSparc, $79.95 ... 



TELPAC 

This communication program from U.S. Robot- 
ics is designed to work with "U.S. Robotics or com- 
patible modems." The manual does not say what it 
means by "compatible modems," but a fair guess 
would be the Hayes Smartmodems, since the two 
lines share the same set of commands. 

The program is filled with useful features. You 
can capture incoming information and save it. to 
disk; you can send and receive disk files with or 
without the widespread Christensen error-check- 
ing protocol; you can even set up your system as a 
host computer, complete with password; protection 
to prevent unauthorized access. Other features in- 
clude auto-diaiing, auto-log-on, the ability to use 
batch files, and more. But there is also a problem: 
You may never get it working. 

Telpac comes in several versions, including one 
for the IBM PC, which is preinstalled. The CP/M 
version is not preinstalled however. To set it up, 
you must be able to answer questions like which 
UART, or serial interface chip, you have in your 
system, whether the UART is "memory mapped," 
and a few other quasi-technical things that most 
users neither know nor care about 

If you get past this obstacle, you'll find that the 
manual is. filled with more of the same, it contains 
such useful instructions as: "The first step in using 
Telpac is to attach the modem to the serial data 
port of the microcomputer." This is much like a 
book on carpentry that starts by telling you "First 

build a workbench " Also, although the- latest 

manual is a vast improvement on earlier Telpac 
manuals, it is still written in the dry technical style 
that makes it tough reading evenfor those who are 
familiar with communications and have a fair idea 
of what to expect from the program. ; .-. 

This is a hacker's program, pure and simple, if 
you're already familiar with communications, if you 
can find your way around the technical computer 
jargon, and if you have a good idea of what to ex- 
pect from a communications program in principle, 
you will find this program sufficiently useful to 
count-as a bargain for the price. No n hackers need 
not bother. .. 

Requirements: CP/M, 64K RAM; IBM-PC, DOS 1.1 
or later ■ 
U.S. Robotics, $79 

TRANSEND 1, 2, 3; TRANSEND/PC 

Transend and TransendlPC share the same 



Communications 



211 



name, the same software house, and— in general, 
at least — many of the same communications capa- 
. bilities. Aside from that, they are two entirely differ- 
ent programs. 

Start with Transend. This program is strictly for 
the Apple II or lie. It comes in three levels, cleverly 
named levels 1, 2, and 3. Level 1 turns your Apple 
into a basic smart terminal. Features include auto- 
dial, auto-tog-on, control over a fair number of 
parameters, the ability to print information as 
it comes in, the ability to capture information to 
save to disk, and the ability to send disk files 
without error-checking protocols. All this makes 
Transend 1 suitable for most interactive com- 
munication needs, including sending and receiving 
text files. ; 

Level 2 adds full file transfer capabilities, using 
Transend Corporation's own error-correcting pro- 
tocol. (Unfortunately, this means that you can 
transfer programs only to other systems using 
Transend.) It also adds the ability to create lists of 
files to be sent with a single command. This level 
also has a useful feature that will calculate the esti- 
mated length of time for transmission for any given 
file. ; 

, Level 3, finally, adds full electronic-mail capabili- 
ties for use with other systems also running Tran- 
send or Transend/PC. This translates to completely 
unattended operation. You give the system its or- 
ders and leave it alone< It will then keep track of the 
time and send messages at specific times as or- 
dered, it the program gets a busy signal, it will au- 
tomatically redial at intervals until it gets through. 
It will also answer the phone to take incoming mes- 
sages. Level 3 will work with up to 128 'other Tran- 
seno'-based "post offices." 

All three levels support a wide range of Apple 
compatible serial cards, modems, and 80-column 
cards. Ail three will control baud rate if your system 
allows for it, and all three can handle 1200 baud if 
your system can. 

The concept of having three levels of Transend is 
an interesting one. The idea is that you buy just as 
much communications capability as you need. If 
you find you need more, you can step up to the 
next level without having to buy or learn an entirely 
new program. For whatever reason, Transend Cor- 
poration decided not to stay with this concept for 
Transend/PC. Here you either buy the whole thing, 
or not at all. 

Transend/PC is the PC equivalent of Transend 3, 



but don't get the mistaken idea that this is just a 
rewritten version of the Apple II program. Not only 
has the IBM PC version been revised to take advan- 
tage of the machine's greater power, the program 
doesn't even look the same on the screen. 

Transend is completely menu-based. In the Apple 
version this is true in the worst possible way, with 
complex interlinked menus that are bound to make 
the experienced user feel as though trapped in mo- 
lasses. You can give "type ahead" commands to 
the program that will take you through several lev- 
els of menu with a single command, but to do this 
you have to memorize the commands on the var- 
ious menus. 

In the IBM version you are dealing not with 
menus so much as with icons — "in" baskets and 
"out" baskets that zoom in and out as requested so 
you can take a closer look at the contents. The 
effect is to make the program understandable to 
the new user without being annoyingly slow to the 
experienced user. Even so, the icons give you the, 
same nested effect as interlinked menus, and you 
might begin to wish you could bypass them once 
the novelty wears off. The IBM version of Transend 
also included the widespread Christensen error- 
checking protocol as an additional choice in file 
transfer; ; ■'■■ 

One disadvantage of Transend/PC is that it is 
clumsy to run on a dual-disk machine. First you 
have to boot your system. Then you put the Tran- 
send/PC distribution disk in drive A and your "mes- 
sage disk" (created by the program during 
installation) in drive B. Once you load the program, 
you have to remove the distribution disk from drive 
A and replace it with the Transend/PC "attachment 
disk" (also created during installation). All this' 
nonsense is a direct result of the program's copy 
protection. . ■=■;.'■ 

In fact, both versions of Transend are copy pro- 
tected. The Apple II version comes with a backup 
disk to help tide you over if you manage to destroy 
your working disk. Transend/PC 'comes without a 
backup, but one is available when you return the 
registration form. The backup is free if the registra- 
tion .form is returned within 30 days of purchase. 
After that, it is $20. On the plus side is Transend 
Corporation's update policy, which offers up- 
grades at special discounts. Unfortunately, this is 
more than counterbalanced by the company's re- 
placement policy. Replacement of a damaged disk 
is free during the 90-day warranty period, and $20 



212 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



for "up to one year from date of original purchase." 
After that, you are apparently on your own. 
Requirements: Transend, Apple II or lie, Check for 
compatibility with the serial cards, modems, and 
screen control cards in your system; Transend/PC, 
IBM PC or PC-XT, 256K RAM, two drives; Transend 
PC ModemCard, TransModem, or Hayes Smartmo- 
dem 300 is needed for electronic mail application; 
any modem will work for terminal applications 
Transend Corporation, Transend Level 1 $89, Level 
2 $149, Level 3 $275; Transend/PC $189 , 

TSMART 

When compared with communications programs 
available for other machines, TSMART is not a very 
sophisticated program, it is, however, one of the 
few smart terminal programs available for Atari 
computers. As such, it is one of the most sophisti- 
cated communications programs for the Atari. Par- 
ticularly noteworthy when using disk drives, 
TSMART will let you send and receive files longer 
than can fit in your computer's memory. (If you're 
using tape cassette you are limited by memory 
size.) 

TSMART comes in two versions. One is specifi- 
cally for the Atari 800 using the Atari-specific 
model of the Microconnection modem. The other 
is for any RS-232 modem connected through' the 
Atari 850 Interface. Both versions work in much the 
same way from the user's point of view, but each 
comes with its own version of the documentation. 
This comes in the form of roughly 30 single-sided, 
single-spaced pages printed on a letter quality 
printer. The documentation is generally adequate 
and reasonably well written. As with much Atari 
software, the documentation has a strong nobbiest 
flavor to it. 

Other features in the program include storage of 
up to eight phone numbers for use with a Micro- 
connection auto-dial modem and a kind of quasi- 
auto-log-on in which you enter your log-on infor- 
mation before you go online, then have the pro- 
gram send it when appropriate. The auto-dial 
feature can also be modified for use with the Hayes 
Smartmodem. 

One unwelcome feature of TSMARTs manual is 
a notice in boldface saying that Microperipheral 
will provide 15 minutes (count them: 15) of free 
"consultation," after which their time will be billed 
at $50 per hour. Oh, and be prepared to give your 
VISA or Mastercard number when you call. In prac- 



tice, Microperipheral is quite a bit more helpful 

than this, but it would be nice if they could find a 

more pleasant way to discourage unnecessary 

phone calls. 

Requirements: 24K RAM for cassette version, 32K 

for disk; Microconnection Version, Atari 400, 800, 

or XL Series; Microconnection modem with cable 

for Atari SIO bus connector; RS-232 Version, Atari 

800; 850 Interface and any RS-232 modem. 

The Microperipheral Corporation, cassette version 

$39.95; disk version $49.95 ...... • 

VISILINK 

Getting and analyzing information has always 
been one of the more difficult aspects of operating 
a. business. You cannot make far-reaching deci- 
sions about your corporate survival unless you 
have a solid understanding of what your major 
competitors are doing, and perhaps some statisti- 
cal surveys on current market trends. Of course, if 
you spend all your time doing research, the odds 
are quite good that your business will die from in- 
attention. ' 

For many, it is a catch-22 situation. But now 
something new has been added. Since 1979, Data 
Resources Incorporated, has operated an informa- 
tion service for large companies. Now they are 
opening a segment of their data banks to personal 
computer users through VisiLink from VisiCorp. 

VisiLink is best thought of«as a utility program. It 
lets you retrieve "frames" of information on busi- 
ness, investment, and financial analysis from DRI. 
The information comes by way of modem and 
phone lines. More important, it comes in VisiCalc 
DIF format- Analyzing the information becomes a 
simple matter of loading it into an open VisiCalc 
worksheet, after which you can play with it in any 
way you like. , 

Using VisiLink is much like catalog shopping, ex- 
cept that the product you are buying is information. 
The entire transaction — from filling out the order 
blank to transferring the' information— takes place 
within the framework of the VisiLink program. : 

VisiLink is simpler to use than many other termi- 
nal programs. All communications information, in- 
cluding baud rate and such, is stored in a 
configuration file. -So is the information that DRI 
needs for billing. Ail you do is call DRi, ask for the 
appropriate "order form," select the "DataKit" 
frame you want, and DRI sends the information. 
You do all this by way of step-by-step menu 



Communications 



213 



choices in both the program and the online system. 
Most potential problems are anticipated in the 
manual. Also nice is the QuickStart Course mini- 
manual, which will get you up and running in mini- 
mum time. 

If you run a business, and need information to 
run it, you'll find that VisiUnk and DRi make an 
interesting research source. . 
Requirements: Apple II or II + , 48K RAM; IBM PC, 
192K RAM; two disk drives . 
VisiCorp, $250 

VISITERM 

There is very little that VisiCorp hasn't tried to do 
for the Apple li. VisiTerm is the company's contri- 
bution in the field of communications programs. 

This is a somewhat limited smart terminal pro- 
gram that takes advantage of some features spe- 
cific to the Apple. The program provides a number 
of utilities that may or may not enhance the com- 
puter's ability to talk over the phone lines, but cer- 
tainly add to the idiosyncratic nature of the 
product. In sending a file, for example, the program 
insists on showing you the text as it is being trans- 
mitted. Not only is there no need for this, but it is 
distracting, too. 

Probably VisiTerm' s most notable feature is the 
way it displays information. If you want an 80-col- 
umn screen with most programs, you have to get 
an 80-column card. With VisiTerm, you simply se- 
lect an appropriate character set, and the program 
creates the characters on the screen for you, using 
the Apple II 's high resolution graphics capabilities. 
The program will give you between 60 and 80 char- 
acters per line, depending on the design of the 
character set you use. If you've never seen lower 
case on your Apple, you will also appreciate the 
way the program uses the Apple's graphics capa- 
bilities to "draw" lowercase letters. VisiTerm 
comes with two character sets to choose from. One 
of these includes the characters and codes for the 
APL language, if you don't like either set, you can 
create your own. 

Other features in the program include the ability 
to capture information and save it to disk and the 
ability to transfer files directly to and from disk. 
There is no error checking protocol available in the 
program, and no way to transmit program files. The 
program will let you store parameter files for each 
system you deal with. 

All in all, VisiTerm is a rather run-of-the-mill com- 



munications program. When it was released, it was 
highly praised for some of its features, but that was 
some time ago. The program's age is beginning to 
show, and the novelty of its more notable features 
has definitely worn thin. 

Requirements: Apple II, II+ or lie, 48K RAM, disk 
drive ■ 
VisiCorp, $100 



AL BERKELEY, VENTURE 

CAPITALIST WITH ALEX BROWN & 

SONS 

Educational programs rather than games 
promise the highest profits when investing in 
software companies, says Al Berkeley, princi- 
pal with Alex Brown & Sons, a major venture 
capita! firm. 

"The games business is pretty rugged 
now," says Berkeley, 39, who has been with 
the Baltimore company since 1972. "It's more 
of a hit business than education, whereas in 
investment we look more for high recurring 
revenues with a broad consumer base." 

Alex Brown, which was founded in 1800 and 
underwrote the first railroad in the country, 
has invested in only one computer game com- 
pany (Imagic), Berkeley says, while its educa- 
tional software clients have included 
Spinnaker, VisiCorp., Sierra On-Line, and In- 
formation Builders. 

"We've got a dozen research analysts and 
corporate finance specialists out there full 
time visiting software companies. We're inter- 
ested in the educational market, the medical 
market, financial services, transportation, 
computer-integrated manufacturing with ro- 
bots, and database companies," says Berke- 
ley, whose background in computers includes 
four years in the air force tracking an inven- 
tory of aircraft parts. 

Over the past few years, Alex Brown has in- 
vested more than $1 billion in companies de- 
signing software for mainframes, 
minicomputers, and microcomputers for 
home and office. In early 1984 alone, a fund of 
$80 million was on tap for investment in soft- 
ware, telecommunications, and health care 
industries. 



214 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



CDfUlPUTER LAfUEUAEE 



BYCARLHELMERS 



Personal computers, like the oracles of mythol- 
ogy, require that we pose the right questions 
to them if we want the right answers. Every time 
we interact with them we have to use a language to 
pose these questions. This is true whether commu- 
nicating by keyboards, mice, graphic pad inputs, or 
even our own voices. 

Computer languages are our way of talking with 
personal computers. The personal computer as a 
servant must be told what to do. The personal com- 
puter as a scribe must be able to record writings. 
The personal computer as a device for automatic 
execution of our preprogrammed thoughts must 
be able to "read" these thoughts in some way. De- 
signing these ways of interaction between people 
and computers ultimately means designing some 
form of language. 

A "personal" computer is just a general purpose 
computer made inexpensive and interactive. The 
traditional concept of a computer language is a 
way of creating computer programs for the opera- 
tion of such a computer. These programs are trie^ 
"software" which turns a standard general pur- 
pose computer product into something useful and 
adapted to a particular situation. 

Personal computer software can come in pre- 
packaged, standardized form as nicely marketed 
products with documentation telling how they are 
used. Indeed, this is the way all computer lan- 
guages themselves come. Prepackaged software is 
like prerecorded music. If we agree with all the 
functional, stylistic, and hardware assumptions the 
developer used in writing the program, then we'll 
probably like it in our own personal context. 
: . Sooner or later, as we get into the serious use of 
a computer, we ail need to do some programming. 
When we want to write, change, or extend a pro- 
gram, we need to use a programming language. In 
a system of prepackaged commercial software, if 
we want to add one or two of our own custom pro- 
grams we'll need to use a programming language. 
Much of today's mystique of using personal com- 
puters comes from the use of programming lan- 
guages^ — "foreign" languages not native to most 
people. 

To program a computer requires a language. To 
use a computer requires a beast called an "operat- 
ing system." Languages interact with operating 
systems in numerous ways. This combination 
forms our "user interface" environment as seen at 



the keyboard and display screen when we turn on 
the computer. 

In most inexpensive personal computer designs, 
there is no separation of the BASIC language "in- 
terpreter" from the operating system. They are one 
and the same program. When we turn on the com- 
puter we are always in the interactive BASIC lan- 
guage environment. Many BASIC commands are 
like operating system commands in more sophisti- 
cated computers. The simple command "Run" 
throws us immediately into execution of our pro- 
gram. The BASIC language commands "Load" and 
"Save" access built in services that manage our 
mass storage resource on cassette tape or floppy 
disk. There is no formally recognized "operating 
system" in such a-simple interactive environment. 
Low end entry level computers from Atari, Coleco, 
and Commodore use this kind of integrated oper- 
ating system and programming environment. 

In larger, more professionally oriented personal 
computers, the language and operating systems 
are separated. We can choose a programming lan- 
guage to suit our needs either before or after 
choosing a computer and its associated operating 
system programs. The only major requirement is 
that the language we choose must play together 
with an operating system for access to the full 
range of a computer's peripherals, memory, and 
mass storage. If a program wants to access disk 
drive block N, a language which is adapted to the 
environment of a computer with a disk drive will 
have some way to say "SEEK BLOCK N." The prop- 
erly designed language provides convenient 
"hooks" for accessing disks, printers, modems, 
and other peripherals. This is true whether the op- 
erating system is a simplistic implied operating 
system of a toy BASIC computer, or a widely used 
operating system like CP/M, MS-DOS, the UCSD p- 
system, or Unix. It is no<fun trying to reinvent the 
software interface wheel every time we write a pro- 
gram. , ... . ■ 

Since the first computers, languages have been 
designed to. help in the writing of useful programs. 
All computers that are widely available today have 
the similar design technology. It's thus no surprise 
that most computer languages have the same basic 
components. 

: Once our first computer language is mastered, 
learning yet another language is always a much 
simpler and easier accomplishment, since we al- 



Computer Languages 



215 



ready know the basic components of any language^ 
Mastering a new language for computers starts 
with a process of figuring out how to do the things 
we used to do in a previous language. While ex- 
ploring the new ways to do familiar things, learning 
a new language often involves finding out about 
one or two totally new techniques; Let's examine 
some of these components of languages, illustrat- 
ing them with examples drawn from contemporary 
personal computer languages. 

In order to write a program that manipulates 
some form of data, we are compelled to use names. 
Every language has a way of forming names for 
data, for variables, for places in the program, for all 
the purposes of symbolically referring to some- 
thing. In computer languages, names are the fun- 
damental symbolic units of programs. The ways of 
forming names out of sequences of letters are very 
similar in all computer languages. Nearly every lan- 
guage requires that we start a name with a letter 
from A to Z (or from lowercase a to z). Most modern 
languages allow use of the numeric digits to 9 as 
long as the name does not start with a numeric digit. 

Many languages allow the use of a "break char- 
acter" to improve readability by humans. The tradi- 
tional languages of COBOL and PL/i on large 
machines, as well as most microcomputer imple- 
mentations of Pascal, allow the use of the under- 
score character ( ,, _") to provide a visual break 
between sections of the long, descriptive name 
good programmers use in their programs. As far as 
the computer is concerned, the break character is 
ignored totally in a name — as if it were never used. 

The number of characters we are allowed in a 
name varies considerably from language to lan- 
guage. The smaller the allowed number, the more 
problems we have with duplicate names in larger 
programs. In most early and many current versions 
of BASIC, for example, style is crimped by a re- 
quirement that names be only two characters long. 
FORTRAN, the venerable old language of large 
computers used in engineering and scientific ap- 
plications only allows us six characters in a name. 
The Pascal implementations typically available on 
personal computers allows 13 characters in a 
name, of which the first eight alphanumeric char- 
acters must be unique. Languages like Pascal, PL/ 
I, and COBOL, which typically allow such longer 
names, can use these longer names to help make 
the programs more readable to human beings. 

Every computer language has a certain core list 



of predefined names for the purposes of creating 
programs. This set of built-in "identifiers" is what 
gives a language its flavor and style. Thus in 
BASIC, we have words like "Common," "Dimen- 
sion," "Do," and "Go To." In Pascal we have words 
like "For," "While," "Begin," and "Procedure." 
And in nearly every computer language, we have 
the predefined words "if," "Then," and "Else." As 
with human languages, we have to be careful when 
using several computer languages — the meaning 
of an English language word used in one computer 
language can be subtly different when used in an- 
other. The list of built-in names of a language also 
defines a list of words we should not duplicate in 
choosing names for our own use in programs. 
(Some language systems enforce this "should not" 
with syntax error messages. Some other language 
systems allow confusing programs to be written, 
where the standard words get redefined to mean 
something else. Even if the language system allows 
it, this is a practice which good programmers avoid 
unless the purpose of writing the program is to 
make a joke.)- " 

Every language has the concept of a variable. A 
variable is a name, supplied by the programmer, 
which can have a data value associated with it 
Thus if we choose a name in some language, like 
"todays date," a value we might associate with it 
is a string of characters, say, "January 1, 1984." A 
variable always has a data type associated with it. 
We manipulate the values of variables in programs 
by changing them according to computations. We 
can move values from one variable to another. We 
can read values from an input device like a com- 
puter keyboard or a disk drive. We can write values 
to an output device like a disk or a display screen. 
The data that a program works with is nothing 
more than a set of values that its variables currently 
contain. 

A variation on the concept of a variable is the 
concept of a named or unnamed "constant" data 
value. The number "3.14159" might be used in a 
program ail by itself as an unnamed constant value 
in some computation. If we were going to use this 
number a lot we might want to give it a name sym- 
bolizing why we are using this particular value. 
Many languages like Pascal, FORTRAN, PL/I, and 
COBOL allow us to declare that the symbol "PI" 
would be used in place of the value 3.14159 in this 
example. If at a later time we wanted to replace the 
value by a more accurate approximation, say 



216 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



3.1415927, all we would have to change in our pro- 
gram is the one statement where we assigned a 
value to the constant PI. 

Every variable must have a "type." This type can 
be that of a number, a string of characters, or one 
bf several more advanced type concepts available 
in some languages. In simple, easily used lan- 
guages like BASIC, the number of possible types 
for variables is limited — they can be numbers or 
they can be strings, or ordered collections (arrays) 
of numbers or of strings. In more generally useful 
languages like Pascal, we find additional data 
types like Integer, Boolean, Record, and Set. 

The fundamental unit of memory storage. in a 
computer. is the binary bit — a cell in memory that 
can be either "1" or "0," "yes". or "no." A bit by 
itself is of very limited utility. In order to compute 
useful things, we have to impose "data structure" 
onto groups of bits. The first level of data structure 
in all languages is provided by the' fundamental 
data types mentioned above. A numeric variable is 
po more or less than a group of bits interpreted 
according to a numeric representation and given a 
name. A "character" is a group of 8 bits (a "byte") 
containing one of 256 different codes for letters, 
numbers, punctuation, or "special characters." A 
"character string" is a simple data structure built 
of characters grouped together and given a single 
variable name. 

These are the simple data structures which every 
language has. There is a more general concept of 
aata structure as well. We can group several items 
with the simpler data structure under a common 
name in some way. Every language shares the most 
basic form of general data structure, the "array." 
An array is a group of identical data items refer- 
enced by one variable name and a number picking 
which particular item is desired. 

If we have the 25 different scores of students in a 
class on some test, we might make an array of 25 
numbers inside our computer program.. Each item 
has a number identifying it. We refer. to an item of 
data in an array by giving the name of the array and 
the number of the item we want. The score of the 
fifth student in our list of students would be refer- 
enced by giving the array name and the numeric 
value "5." 

Array structures require use of a "declarative" 
statement to tell the computer how many items of 
what type will be required. In BASIC, this declara- 
tive form is the "DIM" statement, as in "DIM A3 



(40)" to specify a list of 40 numeric items which can 
be referenced as A3. The same statement in FOR- 
TRAN would come out as "DIMENSION A3 (40)"or 
"REAL A3 (40)." In Pascal we would say the same 
thing as "VAR any old name : ARRAY[1..40] OF 
REAL;". An array can only consist of identical 
items of data. 

. This array form is the only way to group data in 
BASIC or FORTRAN. But in languages like Pascal, 
C, Modula, PL/(, and COBOL, there is a much more 
powerful way of grouping data, the concept of the 
"record." A record can mix any type of data to- 
gether. Thus in Pascal we can think of a record 
containing several numbers, several Boolean flags 
(single bits), a few character strings, and even a 
"pointer" datatype referring to another record. : : ; 

The most' powerful uses of computers are those 
involving ''databases." Databases are nothing 
more than collections of records found on disk 
memory units. The computer languages which pro- 
vide a means of defining and manipulating such 
record data types are the most flexible and desir- 
able languages in which to write programs. Begin- 
ning programmers may start out using simpler 
languages like BASIC, but sooner or iaterwill prog- 
ress to languages with record structures. 

To just define all the data we need is not enough. 
To use a computer program we have to "do some- 
thing"— we have to compute results and manipu- 
late, the data in some way. The fundamental 
manipulation statement in every conventional com- 
puter language is the "assignment statement." if 
"A", is some symbol representing a data item, and 
"B" represents a computed value or the contents 
of another data item, then in BASIC we might say: = 

'■V-': LETA -B ; ..\ ■■■,■■■ 

This means "move the value of B into the data item 
A." In COBOL (a verbose language), we actually 
say exactly that: .. 

MOVE B TO A. 

In BASIC, the word "LET" is often omitted from the 
assignment statement, leaving the FORTRAN ver- 
sion of the same statement: ... 

A = B 

In Pascal, we would add two punctuation symbols: 



Computer Languages 



217 



1 A:=B; . .. 

But in each language the meaning is the same: 
Compute or retrieve the value of B, then plug that 
value into the data item or structure A. 

Where do we get the value of "B"? If the source 
of the assignment operation's data is a simple 
name, the answer is obvious. Go look up the cur- 
rent value in the data item associated with the 
name, then plug it into the item A. 

More often than not, the source of the data in an 
'assignment is an "expression" representing a 
; computation. An expression is a rule for combining 
different data items into a resulting value. Like 
data, every expression has a data type. The data 
type resulting from, an expression may differ from 
the data types of the items if references. Here is a 
simple statement in Pascal which computes the av- 
erage of three items, X, Y, arid Z and then assigns 
the result to A: ... 



A:=(X + Y + Z)/3; 

When the program executes this statement, it goes 
out and finds the values of X, Y, and Z. It then adds 
them' together to give^ a value for the quantity 
bracketed by the parentheses. After figuring out 
the sum, it divides by 3. The result of the division is 
then moved into A. 

The simplest program is a series of statements. 
When we tell the computer to execute the program, 
it takes each statement in our series and carries 
out its operations. When it is done with one state- 
ment, the next statement is carried out. 

A computer program would have no flexibility 
whatsoever if all it could do is execute statements 
one after another. We need a way to alter the order 
of execution based on data. Every conventional 
computer language has the concepts of the "if 
statement," the "loop," and the "subroutine." 

The "if statement" is no more than a method of 
choosing between two alternative paths of execu- 
tion based on a condition that can be true or false. 
Suppose we had a variable called Sex, which might 
be Male or Female. An IF statement could be used 
to treat the two options differently in some pro- 
gram. Here is an IF statement in Pascal that might 
sort out a dress code according to Sex — and even 
cry for help if the data is bad: 



IF 

SEX = MALE 
THEN 

wears_a dress := FALSE 

ELSE 

IF 

SEX = FEMALE 

THEN 

wears^a dress := TRUE 

.... ELSE 
cry-out ('I am confused'); 

The form shown here illustrates the key words 
found in every language for the IF statement. The 
keyword "IF" starts the IF statement. Everything 
between "IF" and "THEN" defines the condition 
that will be tested. Everything between "THEN" 
and "ELSE" defines what will be done if the condi- 
tion is true. And, everything from the word "ELSE" 
to the end of the statement defines what is done if 
the condition is false, in Pascal, PL/I and Modula, 
the end of the statement is usually signified by a 
semicolon (";"). In this sample, the "false" case is 
another IF statement (Jumping ahead just a bit, 
this example also shows how Pascal, PL/I, or Mod- 
ula would reference a subroutine called "cry 

out") .' 

More advanced languages such as PL/I, Pascal, 
C, and Modula have an extension of the "IF ... 
THEN ... ELSE" to multiple conditions. This exten- 
sion is called the "CASE" statement It allows us to 
write a statement like the following to sort out sev- 
eral different options: 



CASEANIMAI TYPE OF 



WHALE 

CAMEL 

HUMAN 

CROCODILE 

SPIDER 



: legs : = 
: legs : = 4 
; legs : = 2 
: legs : = 4 
: legs : =8 



END; 



The CASE statement picks one of the assignment 

statements based on the current value of ANIMA! 

TYPE, which in this example can have one of five 
different values. 

The loop concept of a language allows us to 
write a set of statements that will be executed over 
and over, sometimes with slightly different data 
conditions each time. An indexed loop exists in 
every language, allowing us to step through a se- 



278 



OMNI Complete Catalog of Computer Software 



ties of values from a starting point to an ending 
point. In BASIC, we might write: 

FOR I = 1 TO 5 

. . . any group of statements . . . 
NEXT I 

This construction will cause "any group of state- 
ments" to be executed five times. On each succes- 
sive execution, variable I would have the values 
1,2,3,4 and 5. The same loop could be expressed in 
Pascal as: 

FOR I :=1 TO 5 DO 
BEGIN 

... any group of statements. .. 
END;. 

The effect is the same. 

There are two other variations of the loop con- 
struct used In many languages, called conditional 
loops. The While loop evaluates a condition before 
each execution of the group of statements. The 
loop is executed over and over While the condition 
remains true. The Until loop evaluates a condition, 
after execution of the group of statements. The 
loop statements are always executed at least once, 
and will be repeated Until the condition becomes 
true. The original definitions of BASIC and FOR- 
TRAN did not have these more sophisticated forms 
of the loop. All modem conventional computer lan- 
guages including enhanced versions of BASIC and 
FORTRAN have While and Until loops. 

In addition to conditional IF statements and loop- 
ing, every language has a means of executing a 
"subroutine" in some way. In BASIC, the execution 
of a subroutine is done with the "GOSUB" state- 
ment. In FORTRAN and COBOL the "Call" keyword 
is used, in Pascal, Modula, and C, the way we exe- 
cute a subroutine call is by just mentioning the 
name of the subroutine. One of the major handi- 
caps of BASIC as a programming language is the 
fact that we have no way to call a subroutine by 
name. Instead, we have to use arbitrary line num- 
bers to refer to places in a program. Thus to exe- 
cute an error-handling procedure in Pascal, as 
noted in an earlier example, we might simply write: 

cry__for help ('Some error message'); 

But in BASIC, we would have to set some error 
variable ",E$" equal to the message then GOSUB to 
some location like 10000: 



2135 LET E$ = 'Some error message' ' 

21 35 LET E$ = 'Some error message' 

2136 GOSUB 10000 

In each case, we leave the present place in the pro- 
gram, go off to another place (while remembering 
where we came from), execute the subroutine, then 
return to where we came from. 

Every language also has a variation on this idea 
of branching off somewhere, called the "uncondi- 
tional GO TO." In languages such as FORTRAN 
and BASIC, the unconditional GO TO tends to be 
used quite frequently to jump around in programs. 
In modern "block structured" languages like C, 
Pascal, Modula, COBOL and PL/I, the uncondi- 
tional GO TO is rarely if ever used in practice. 

The fact that a language with "block structure" 
rarely has to use the GO TO operation is inherent in 
its highly developed mechanisms for creating and 
using subroutines. The first wideiy used language 
that possessed some of the attributes of block 
structure was the commercial language COBOL. 
This was soon followed by IBM's PL/I language in 
the early 1960s. Today's modern languages Pascal, 
C, and Modula all owe some of their "flavor" to 
earlier languages descended from the pioneering 
block-structured language Algol. 

The idea of block structure is to partition a prob- 
lem into inherently separate steps through the cre- 
ation of blocks. At the level of an IF statement, use 
of the BEGIN ... END brackets in Pascal or Modula 
will partition off whole series of statements within 
the THEN or ELSE parts. A similar bracketing func- 
tion is provided by the symbols "[" and "]" used in 
the C language. 

In addition to such local structure and bracket- 
ing, there is the convenient specification of named 
blocks— procedures and functions — which can be 
conveniently invoked as required. Procedure 
blocks are referenced in such languages by stating 
their names with optional parameter limits. Func- 
tion blocks are like procedure blocks, except they 
have values returned that can be used as part of 
expressions. Each language has its own particular 
rules on how these blocks are used and what kinds 
of values can be passed between caller and callee. 

Every language has to deal with a host of other 
technical details, such as input and output of data, 
conversions of data between different data types, 
and so on. These issues are usually addressed by 
extending the concept of built in names to include 



Computer Languages 



219 



procedure names and function names which are 
part of one or more "system libraries." Thus in Pas- 
cal, we have the built in Input/Output functions and 
procedures including GET, PUT, READ, READLN, 
WRITE, WRITELN, RESET, CLOSE, REWRITE, etc. 
The names used vary, but the operations are simi- 
lar in all conventional languages. 

The tight coupling of a language to its operating 
system and user environment is no more important 
than: in the process of writing programs. We have 
to have a method of creating a program, finding 
errors ("bugs") in it, and changing the text of a 
program. This is where we find the concept of a 
language system most important. 

The interactiveness of an language system is per- 
haps its most important attribute. No matter what 
the language is, if it is more interactive than the 
next language it will probably be easier to learn 
and use. This is undoubtedly the "secret" of the 
wide use of BASIC as a language for many early 
personal computers. It is easy to write a BASIC "in- 
terpreter" system that will run interactively in the 
smallest of computers — witness the $39.95 drug- 
store specials on one brand recently available. As 
the language systems get more complex, the inter- 
activeness often goes away in small computers. 

We pay a price in software engineering costs to 
make a powerful and complex language interac- 
tive. Thus the more powerful languages like C, Pas- 
cal, and Modula will only work well on the more 
expensive personal computers with large size 
floppy disks and hard disks. With such languages, 
we need tools including text editors, file systems, 
compilers, and debuggers. All these tools must 
play with each other, using the glue of. an operating 
system to stick together. . 

As we've seen, the art of computer programming 
is an art of phrasing our thoughts in a computer 
language. The language is our method of talking to 
a computer and asking it to do various tasks. We've 
been concentrating here on traditional computer 
languages such as BASIC, FORTRAN, Pascal, and 
the like. But in fact every prepackaged application 
of a computer defines an unconventional lan- 
guage. Thus the user of VisiOn or 1-2-3 interacts 
with a' computer in a style and manner that could 
be called a language. Or, the bona fide member of 
the artificial intelligentsia uses a rather unconven- 
tional language such as LISP or Prolog. Or, when 
we use a database query application on computers 
ranging from the personal to the gigantic, the inter- 



action defines a language. Generalized in this way, 
computer languages go far beyond the formal pro- 
gramming languages mentioned in this essay. 

Whatever the method and style of interaction 
with computers you choose, do interact. Unless 
you experiment with your personal computer, 
you'll never learn what it can do.oo . 

THE USER LANGUAGES 

One characteristic common to the user lan- 
guages is their "interactive environment." This is a 
fancy name for, "you type a